Limits on Appeals

Interviewer: How many times can a case are appealed?

Randy Berman: It can only be directly appealed once. However, like I mentioned, you can go back to the appellate court on issues of competence of counsel that I already discussed.

Interviewer: That’s what I mean.

Randy Berman: There are certain issues that can be taken further – beyond the initial appellate court to the Florida Supreme Court – so it’s an appeal of that decision.

Interviewer: That’s what I was getting at.

Randy Berman: Then of course there are appeals that can be made to the federal court from the state court on U.S. constitutional issues and it gets kind of involved and technical. There are other avenues of further appealing the initial appellate court’s decision if it’s appropriate under the rules. That’s something that I would have to discuss with a particular client about their particular case. You cannot go back to the initial appellate court and re-appeal.

Interviewer: So you can’t keep appealing it to death, right?

Randy Berman: No. If you lose your direct appeal you have a right to request a rehearing period. If that’s denied you’re done there unless you’ve got jurisdiction to take it to the Florida Supreme or the federal district court.

Federal Jurisdiction

Interviewer: How do cases get to the Supreme Court? How do they get to the federal courts?

Randy Berman: It’s generally when your claim is that a federal constitutional issue is being violated. The most well-known in criminal law is Miranda v. Arizona. That was a state court case but they ultimately got it to the U.S. Supreme Court based upon the failure of the police reading that particular individual his right to not be a witness against himself, which is in the constitution. Miranda formalized that constitutional right and gave us the Miranda warnings that all law enforcement are required to read to a person in custody prior to interrogating them.

The defendant has always had the right to remain silent; you don’t have to be a witness against yourself. You have a right to a speedy trial and you have a right to confront witnesses against you to testify or not at trial and a right to representation if you don’t have the funds to hire a private criminal defense attorney. These are federal rights that are also state rights. If a right is violated by a decision of the state court you can ask for the federal courts to take jurisdiction and review that decision as a violation of federal constitutional law.