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Thomas A. Sobecki, Attorney at Law in Toledo Ohio
Thomas A. Sobecki
Attorney at Law
405 Madison Ave. Suite 910
Toledo, Ohio 43604
Areas of Practice
Appeals

Decisions made by trial court judges or juries need not be the final determination of any civil judgment or criminal conviction. Every criminal defendant who has received a guilty verdict, and every civil party who has lost at trial or as a result of pretrial rulings, has the right to appeal that decision to a reviewing court. In the State of Ohio, those judgments are reviewed in district courts of appeal, including the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District here in Toledo, Ohio. Unfavorable judgments rendered by the district courts of appeal are appealable to the Ohio Supreme Court, but only upon petition to and acceptance by that court. In the federal court system, judgments of the federal district courts are appealable by right to an appropriate Circuit Court of Appeals. The judgments of the federal district courts in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, are appealable to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. Unfavorable judgments rendered by the circuit courts of appeal may be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but only upon petition to and acceptance by that court.

Whether you are seeking to preserve a favorable outcome which has been appealed by your opponent, or to overturn a ruling against you, a successful appeal involves two essential components: preservation of the issues for appeal, and clear and concise appellate briefs. While litigation experience at the trial level is crucial to effective appellate representation, being a good litigator does not automatically translate into being a good appellate attorney. Appellate courts do not retry cases to determine whether the jury "got it wrong" at trial. Rather, a court of appeals will generally reverse a case only when there were erroneous admissions of evidence, incorrect interpretations of the law, improper jury instructions, or other incorrect rulings by the trial judge. While an appellate court may also reverse a case on the basis that an element of a claim or criminal charge was not supported by evidence, or that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict, the court will not usurp the role of the jury and generally will not re-weigh the evidence. Thus appellate work requires far more than just the recycling of the facts presented at trial and the points of law argued to the trial court.

Effective appellate advocacy requires a lawyer who is attuned to the specialized methods of making persuasive arguments on appeal within the unique legal framework applied by appellate courts. It requires the ability to master the record on appeal, to focus on those issues and legal precedents which likely will sway the appellate judges to rule in your favor, and to distill them into a concise brief that will convince an appellate tribunal of the presence or absence of prejudicial error.

Identifying the key issues and making persuasive arguments is more an art than a science. And like any art, it can only be fully developed by regular practice. For more than 20 years, a regular part of my practice has involved appellate work in both the Ohio and federal appellate courts. As an experienced appeals attorney with 29 years of practice here in Toledo and throughout northwest Ohio, I have argued cases in both the Ohio Supreme Court and in multiple Ohio Courts of Appeal. I have also handled a number of appeals in other parts of Ohio and other states. In the federal judicial system, I have argued cases before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, located in Washington, DC. In addition to my awareness of, and sensitivity to, the specialized nature of appellate advocacy and persuasion, I am thoroughly versed in the complexities of the appellate process and each appellate court's unique appellate rules and requirements. The rules on appeal contain many traps for the unwary, and overlooking just one can spell disaster. And since I am already familiar with the nuances of appellate procedure, I can focus my energy where it counts: on the substance of an appeal.

As an experienced appellate attorney, I offer excellence and professionalism in the following services:

  • Assisting in litigation in state and federal trial courts in order to ensure that issues are preserved for appeal or to aid in avoiding an appeal.
  • Evaluating cases for appeal.
  • Full representation on appeal.
  • Drafting briefs, motions, and writs before state and federal appellate courts, and arguing my clients' positions in oral argument.
  • Participating in appellate mediation.

My office is located in Toledo, Ohio, and I regularly practice throughout northwest Ohio. I handle state court appeals throughout Ohio, and federal court appeals anywhere in the United States.

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