Appellate law differs significantly if not dramatically from trial law. Trial law involves the painstaking process of acquiring the facts and presenting them to a jury or judge.
The practice of appellate law calls for an otherwise unique set of problem-solving legal skills. The focus of appellate work is in legal research and advocating the client’s position from within the context of legal briefs and oral arguments. Carefully reviewing the lower court or administrative panel’s decision and record, drafting effective appellate briefs, understanding the letter of the law as it specifically applies to the appellate case, attempting (within reason) to research all possible relevant case law, striving for the best appellate legal strategy, and having the ability to make a convincing oral argument all play into the success of an appellate case.
As largely a plaintiff’s practice, our firm is well equipped to handle appellate cases. For nearly 25 years, Kevin has carved a niche in skillfully representing clients in cases on appeal. Betz + Blevins also takes on new clients seeking representation in civil appeal cases.
Because of Kevin’s recognized practice in this area, law firms throughout the state have turned to Betz + Blevins for counsel on appellate cases, some notably involving the Indiana Supreme Court. Part of the professional peer regard for his appellate practice derives from Kevin’s knowledge of the workings of the state’s highest court. From 1988–1990, he served as a law clerk for Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. From 1990 -2011, Kevin was the lead author of an annual Indiana Law Review article that examines the Indiana Supreme Court’s docket, disposition, and voting. Kevin’s ability to critically analyze briefs and develop and employ compelling appellate case strategy has resulted in a vigorous appellate consulting practice for Betz + Blevins.
Some cases representative of our experience in this area are:
Anderson v. U.S.F. Logistics (IMC) Inc.—A federal appeal of a religious practice—”Have a blessed day” comment by office worker—in the workplace. 274 F.3d 470 (7th Cir. Ind. 2001)
Budden v. Board of School Com’rs of City of Indianapolis (IPS)—A state appeal involving class action rights for all citizens in Indiana against public entities. Settled class action for more than $600,000. 698 N.E.2d 1157 (Ind. 1998)
Fain v. Wayne County Auditor’s Office—A federal appeal of FMLA rights. 388 F.3d 257 (7th Cir. 2004)
Midtown Chiropractic v. Illinois Farmers Insurance Company—Appealed a decision by the Marion County Court and won the appeal in favor of Midtown Chiropractic, allowing Midtown to sue Illinois Farmers for not directly honoring an assignment of rights to receive benefits regarding an automobile accident involving one of Illinois Farmers’ insureds. 812 N.E. 2d 851 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004)
Sitar v. Indiana Department of Transportation —A federal appeal of sex harassment and retaliation issues. Settled for more then $125.000. 344 F.3d 720 (7th Cir. 2003)
Star v. IU—An appeal of the decision regarding public records behind the investigation of basketball Coach Bob Knight. Unincorporated Operative Division of Indiana Newspapers, d/b/a Indianapolis Star v. Trustees of Indiana University, 787 N.E.2d 893 (Ind. App. 2003)
Wittenberg Lutheran Village v. Lake Co. Property Tax Assessment Bd. of Appeals—Betz + Blevins consulted with Krieg DeVault appellate counsel on petition to transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court, as well as assisted with preparation for oral argument. 782 N.E.b2d 483 (Ind Tax Ct. 2003)
Miller v. JACI
These prior cases in no way predict future success, but only show our past experience.