Both an Oklahoma legislator and the House of Representatives and its insurance carrier are appealing a decision by the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court to award more than $61,000 in benefits to the injured representative. State Rep. Mike Christian - R, Oklahoma City, was awarded the benefits after sustaining an injury in an automobile accident on the way to the Capitol to present a bill. His attorney is appealing the decision, saying that the awarded benefits do not adequately compensate the legislator for his injuries. The House of Representatives and its insurer, on the other hand, are appealing the court's decision to award Christian at all claiming that he should not be compensated for injuries sustained in an accident that occurred during his commute while he was carpooling with his wife. After a three-judge panel of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court rules in the case, a further appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court is expected.
Oklahoma's judicial system, by establishing separate courts for the appeal of civil and criminal matters, is different from almost every other state in the nation when it comes to "the court of last resort." The Oklahoma Supreme Court rules on appeals in civil matters, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rules on appeals in criminal cases.
Successfully Filing an Appeal
The Court of Criminal Appeals is the avenue through which individuals unfairly convicted of crimes may find relief from their convictions. The state justice system is comprised of individual people--judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses, and juries--and the criminal process depends upon these individuals to render justice in criminal cases. Just as no person is infallible, neither is the criminal justice system infallible. Mistakes may be made, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals provides the ability for errors leading to wrongful conviction to be rectified.
Seldom does a criminal conviction close the door on a case. Generally, it is advisable for any person convicted of a crime to consider a direct appeal of the sentence or the verdict. However, there are specific guidelines regarding the grounds for appeal and the different types of appeals and post-conviction relief available. Hiring an Oklahoma criminal appeals law firm is critical to a successful appeal.
Grounds for Appeal
Grounds for appeal may include:
- Legal errors such as improperly submitted evidence, incorrect jury instructions, or insufficient evidence to support conviction;
- Juror misconduct such as drug or alcohol abuse, ignoring jury instructions, accepting bribes, discussing the case with others or watching media reports about the case, and failing to disclose information during voire dire;
- Prosecutorial misconduct including willfully withholding exonerating evidence or allowing false testimony;
- Ineffective assistance of counsel by the defense attorney;
- Discovery of potentially mitigating or exonerating evidence not available at the trial.
Contrary to what some people believe, the Court of Criminal Appeals does not re-try criminal cases. and it does not summarily reverse a conviction for the immediate release of an inmate. Rather, they evaluate the procedures in the case to affirm, modify, or reverse the judgment or sentence imposed by the trial court. Most frequently, the lower court's ruling is upheld. In some cases, if an appeal is granted, the appellate court will remand the case for a new trial.
Criminal appeals are complex legal proceedings which must be handled by an experienced Oklahoma appellate lawyer. The attorney handling an appeal may be the same defense attorney who handled the original trial, or it may be a different attorney who can look at the case with fresh perspective or who can provide the effective counsel denied at trial.
Pursuit of a criminal appeal is subject to strict deadlines. If you or someone you love has been convicted of a crime, it is important to quickly find a well-qualified criminal appeals lawyer in Oklahoma. For more information, call appellate attorney Adam Banner in Oklahoma City at (405) 778-4800.405-778-4800