The American criminal justice system is based on the right to a fair trial. But what if your trial wasn’t fair? What if there were errors or problems in the trial that made your ultimate conviction unfair?

Every defendant who suffers a criminal conviction is entitled to appeal that conviction to a higher court. But how does a person do that? And who should you call if need to pursue an appeal?

Appellate litigation is complex. To litigate a criminal appeal thoroughly and properly requires skill and training. If someone you know has been convicted of a serious crime, you should contact an experienced appellate lawyer.


In general, an appeal is filed and argued in a “higher court” than the trial court. In the case of a felony conviction in Colorado, this normally means that the appeal is filed in the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The appellate lawyer must first file a Notice of Appeal, notifying the court system and the prosecution that the defendant intends to appeal the conviction and sentence. The appellate lawyer must then arrange to have the record on appeal, which includes the trial transcripts and the court file, transmitted to the appellate court. At that point, the real work begins.

How does the appellate lawyer prepare the appeal?

The appellate lawyer must review all of the trial transcripts, as well as all motions, orders, and other pleadings. The appellate lawyer may also contact the trial lawyer to discuss potential issues for the appeal.

Throughout this process, the appellate lawyer attempts to identify potential issues for the appeal. This process requires training and experience. An untrained lawyer would be more likely to miss a potentially critical appellate issue.

During the record review and identification of issues, a trained appellate lawyer will engage in significant legal research. This includes research of relevant caselaw, statutes, and constitutional provisions. A highly trained appellate lawyer will look for opportunities to “constitutionalize” issues by linking relevant issues to a constitutional provision.

Finally, after review of the entire record and extensive legal research, the appellate lawyer will begin the drafting of the Opening Brief on appeal. This is a critical phase of the appeal, from which the remainder of the appeal follows. The prosecution is then permitted to file an Answer Brief, contesting the arguments set forth in the Opening Brief. The defendant, through his counsel, may then file a Reply Brief. Appellate counsel may then request Oral Argument, at which counsel may argue the case in person to a 3 judge panel of the Court of Appeals. The ultimate goal of the appeal is to achieve reversal of the defendant’s conviction.


Appellate litigation is highly technical and complex. A highly trained and experienced appellate lawyer will generally see and litigate the relevant appellate issues more effectively than a lawyer without such training.
Patrick Mulligan has more than 30 years of experience in criminal appellate litigation. Patrick has litigated and won every type of criminal appeal in the state of Colorado, from DUI through First Degree Murder. Patrick’s experience includes more than 100 felony appeals. Patrick’s work has led to the reversal of many serious felony convictions, including multiple life sentences.

If someone you know has suffered a criminal conviction, you need an experienced appellate lawyer to take the case to the next level. Patrick Mulligan’s extensive experience in criminal appellate litigation is experience you can trust.

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