New Trials, JNOV And Vacating Judgments

SUCCESSFUL APPEALS BEGIN BEFORE JUDGMENT IS ENTERED

Some of the most successful issues to raise on appeal may be lost before the appeal is filed. Defects in the trial court's statement of decision, damages awarded in incorrect amounts, and new evidence are common issues that are often dead-on-arrival on appeal unless further action is taken in the trial court first.

Retaining appellate counsel well before judgment is entered helps ensure ultimate victory -- both by hardening your trial presentation and paving the way for a strong appeal if necessary. TVA's appellate attorneys are also experienced litigators and can emphasize big-picture concerns not always at the top of a busy trial attorney's list, such as ensuring rejected jury instructions are entered on the docket, identifying the exact issues for the trial court to decide, objecting to deficiencies in a statement of decision, preserving substantive issues and appellate strategies in post-trial motions, and ensuring a court reporter is always present for key discussions.

A good appeal begins with a good record. TVA attorneys have not been shy about bringing their own court reporter even into a trial judge's chambers!

MORE THAN ONE WAY TO DEFEAT AN ADVERSE JUDGMENT

The law provides several ways to challenge an adverse judgment before appealing. A judgment notwithstanding the verdict is common after jury trials, along with a motion for new trial. The motion for new trial is also very common after a bench trial, but many trial attorneys are not aware that this kind of motion can potentially doom their clients' fates on appeal. That is because the statutes governing this motion authorize trial courts to modify their rulings and fix defects -- even while denying the motion and affirming the judgment.

Thus, in cases where those defects were already well-preserved for appeal, this a motion for new trial, carrying the risk of a fix-and-deny ruling from the trial court, may be a major tactical blunder. Your appeal could be over before it even begins.

TVA's experienced appellate attorneys help their clients consider these options through the post-judgment process. Including, for instance, in lieu of a motion for new trial, a motion to set aside and vacate a judgment: this provides a route for legal challenge to a judgment but without authorizing the trial judge to fix-and-deny.