Appeals attorney Jonathan Laurans has been litigating criminal appeals and post-conviction “habeas corpus” cases in several states and in our federal court system for 30 years.
Whether you are accused of a crime, have recently been found guilty, or are already serving a prison sentence, you need an appeals attorney to assert and protect your rights, and who is familiar and experienced with the appeals and post-conviction processes at the state and federal levels. Appeals and post-conviction law is riddled with legal intricacies (“procedural hurdles”) that depend upon the unique details of each case. You need an experienced appeals attorney willing to listen to your story, and then investigate the evidence, conduct rigorous legal research, construct a winning defense, and then deliver all of it in a clear and cogent manner to your judges and/or jurors. Only an experienced appeals attorney can do all these things to maximize the possibility of a positive legal outcome for your case.
If you are charged with a crime, don’t let fear overwhelm you. Just as there are laws written to conform citizens’ conduct, define crimes, and provide law enforcement with investigative powers, there are also laws designed to protect you or your loved one, the accused. We are told from an early age that anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty, and that defendants are guaranteed a fair trial. But we are not told that the prosecution is not the party responsible for ensuring that you receive justice. The reality is that your appeals attorney is the person most responsible for ensuring recognition of your legal rights, and your entitlement to fair treatment and trial. If you select the wrong appeals attorney, your rights can be all but lost, and the consequences will often last a lifetime.
If you are charged with a crime, contact the Law Office of Jonathan Laurans for a free consultation.
If you have been found guilty of a crime, the fight is far from over. There are legal procedures available to overturn unfair verdicts and sentences. Appeals and post-conviction statutes and rules are quite complicated, but if employed properly, they empower competent and knowledgeable defense attorneys with the procedural tools to shine light on certain details of your case, and to argue that the trial or punishment was unfair. If any part of the trial or sentence infringed upon your rights, you may have legal recourse. If you have been found guilty, you need an experienced appellate attorney to fight for you. The Law Office of Jonathan Laurans is ready to listen to your story, and help you find the justice you deserve.
If you (or a friend, or family member) are already in prison, don’t lose hope. There are laws to protect prisoners as well as legal ways to reduce your remaining sentence. If your imprisonment is unfair or inhumane, you may have grounds for a post-conviction “habeas corpus” case. In these situations, an experienced post-conviction attorney can seek reduced sentences, pursue exonerating evidence, or contest inhumane conditions. If you feel your imprisonment is unfair or inhumane, you want an experienced post-conviction attorney fighting for your freedom. The Law Office of Jonathan Laurans is ready to take your case.
Federal Criminal Defense
Supreme Court / Certiorari Petitions
Federal Criminal Defense
If you are charged with a federal crime, you should only hire a criminal defense lawyer who is able to provide you with proof of winning experience in federal courts. However, too many defendants hire criminal defense attorneys who rarely, if ever, have handled federal cases, let alone ever win. Ask the attorneys you are considering to provide you with a list of their cases and victories, and scrutinize them carefully. Or empower yourself by conducting your own search on the United States government website PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) which tracks all federal cases. Searches can be conducted by attorney name to uncover an attorney’s wealth (or dearth) of federal litigation experience.
Above all, remember that a federal criminal defense lawyer should work with the accused, develop arguments to build a strong defense, and protect the rights of the accused throughout the legal process. Your criminal defense lawyer should not only put together your side of the story, but your lawyer is also responsible for challenging the prosecution’s version as well. Your defense lawyer should be attempting to uncover any and all legal errors committed by the arresting police officers, the detectives and federal agents, the prosecutors, the court, or even another defense attorney previously representing the accused.
More information on this topic can be learned from reading about federal criminal defense practice here.
People convicted of a crime can seek legal recourse through the appellate (appeals) courts. These courts of appeals are designed to examine judgments issued in the lower trial courts. The appellate process at this stage – known as “direct appeals” – is designed for the defendant’s appellate attorney to uncover legal errors committed by the prosecution or the trial judge. If your conviction was the result of a legal error, your conviction and/or sentence can be overturned and “remanded” back to the lower court for a new trial, or for a mitigated or reduced sentence, or even for the entire case against you to be dismissed altogether.
Read more about criminal appeals here.
People who lose a civil suit also have a chance to appeal the adverse decision, and seek further justice. This appellate process is significantly different than the “direct appeals” process in criminal cases. Civil appeals are comprised of specific rules, and only certain arguments are allowed. New arguments waived or abandoned at the earlier trial-stage of civil proceedings generally cannot be heard in an appellate court if they are not raised until the appellate-review level of litigation. So, it is imperative that you hire an experienced appellate attorney who knows how to investigate the record of the original civil case in hopes of finding any and all legal errors “properly preserved” so that there may be grounds for a reversal of the trial court’s judgment against you. In this regard, remember that, because the outcome of civil appeals most often affects the client’s economic condition, analysis and strategy must be constantly revisited between attorney and client. Thus, the key here is for the client to make sure that the appellate attorney selected is often, if not always, available for consultation.
Read more about civil appeals here.
In all states and within the federal system, there are rules and procedures which provide for a second layer of review for a defendant wrongly convicted, after the defendant’s “direct appeal” has been turned down by the court of appeals and/or supreme court. Remember, appellate courts review whether a prosecutor or judge committed an error during trial or at sentencing, which affected the outcome of those proceedings. But nowhere in that strata of litigation is there a review mechanism for a defendant who lost his or her case because of the poor performance of his or her own attorney. This is known as ineffective assistance of counsel, and is the primary (but not exclusive) focus of what is known as post-conviction litigation. Post-conviction proceedings are commenced within a certain time after a defendant has lost his or her first round of appeals (the “direct appeal”). Cold cases (those which have been completed or even “closed” for years) also can sometimes be re-opened with post-conviction laws and procedures. Only certain arguments are allowed, though. This area of law is hyper-technical. Here, the actions of the original defense attorney(s) can be questioned and deemed inadequate, inept or unlawful.
Defendants have the right, under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, to a competent defense. If a reviewing post-conviction court finds the original defense was incompetently handled, there can be a retrial, a reduction of sentence, or even a compete dismissal of charges for which the accused had been previously convicted. The federal court system provides for post-conviction review of guilty findings and sentences through a series of statutes, the most pertinent being Chapter 28 of the United States Code, Section 2255, otherwise known as 28 U.S.C. 2255. Likewise, all states have procedures in place to provide at least one round of post-conviction review to ensure the fairness and integrity of a conviction and/or sentence.
In Kansas, post-conviction litigation is referred to as a “1507” case because the right to review derives from Kansas Statute 60-1507. In Missouri, post-conviction litigation arises under one or more Missouri Supreme Court procedures, known as “Rule 24.035” or “Rule 29.15” or “Rule 91”.
On top of these procedural avenues open by state law to potentially provide remedy against a wrongful conviction or excessive sentence imposed by a state court, there is an additional layer of review for state convictions and sentences, examined by the federal court system. This final tier of review derives from power granted to federal judges by Congress in 28 U.S.C. 2254 (referred to as “AEDPA” review).
Read more about post-conviction relief, or, view our post-conviction results here.
Writs of Habeas Corpus
Inmates have certain rights. A writ of habeas corpus (one of the most common forms of post-conviction litigation) forces a court to hear, and often reconsider, an inmate’s case. This form of post-conviction litigation can also be used in some instances to assert claims of unfair prison treatment. Exercising your Habeas Corpus rights can reduce an inmate’s prison sentence, or result in moving prisons.
Read more about habeas corpus here.
United States Supreme Court/ Certiorari Petitions
Whether you want to challenge a state appellate court or a federal appellate court decision, you can always seek review of your appeals process by trying to take your case to the United States Supreme Court. This is the highest court in our nation. There is an application process, initiated by filing a petition for certiorari. If certiorari (commonly referred to as “cert”) is granted, then further briefing is required, followed in many instances by an oral argument heard by the Justices of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. If you are considering taking a case all the way to the United States Supreme Court, make sure that the attorney you are considering hiring is able to show you briefs he or she has filed previously in the Supreme Court. While most any attorney can obtain licensure in the Supreme Court, consider that this is your last and final shot. Make sure your attorney is experienced. Make sure your attorney has prepared and filed a certiorari petition for someone else, previously, so that he or she is familiar with the rigorous process. Do not trust this last shot you’ll have to just anyone. Insist on experience.
More information on this topic is available by request, so do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Jonathan Laurans.
Timing is Critical to Your Appeal & Post-Conviction Case
If you or a loved one are considering filing an appeal or post-conviction challenge, the time to act is now. The importance of hiring an experienced defense attorney should not be under-emphasized. Hiring the wrong defense attorney can result in the conviction receiving no meaningful review, or other negative repercussions. Do not expect the prosecutor who is lobbying to incarcerate you to suddenly stop and inform you that your own attorney has missed facts or laws which would limit your sentencing exposure, or even lead to a dismissal of the charges against you. There are rules obligating prosecutors to do this, but they are not always followed.
Please Contact Our Office
If you are in a desperate legal situation, or facing a difficult legal challenge, you need an appellate lawyer to aggressively defend your rights. The Law Office of Jonathan Laurans is ready to fight for you. Contact us today for a FREE consultation. Please contact us by phone at (816) 421-5200, or send us an email.
Timing is everything when your freedom and legal standing are in question. Do not hesitate, contact us today!