Why would I want a different attorney for an appeal?


It is sad that many people who get accused of crimes in the Nashville area wind up getting convicted even if they did not commit the crime or, legally speaking, they were "not guilty."

In other cases, a Tennessee resident may acknowledge that their conviction is fair and may have even pled guilty to a charge; however, the sentence is simply too harsh under the facts and circumstances.

Fortunately, Tennessee law gives those convicted in this state's court the right to appeal their convictions and sentences. Whether or not to appeal is an important decision, and it is an equally important decision as to which attorney one chooses to write the appeal and then argue it if necessary.

While it may be tempting to go with the attorney who handled the trial, this is not always the best thing to do in state appeals. For one, even if the attorney did everything he or she could for the client, the reality is the attorney was not able to avoid a conviction or a harsh sentence despite their best efforts.

Even if this hasn't caused an understandable breakdown in trust, it still may give an accused person some reassurance to have a fresh set of eyes looking at the case on appeal.

Moreover, one item that sometimes comes up on appeal, albeit relatively rarely, is the argument that the attorney who handled the trial did not do a very good job, or, in legal parlance, was "ineffective," at representing his or her client.

At a minimum, it puts both the attorney and his or her client in an awkward situation if the attorney who handled the trial turns right around and explains on appeal that he or she mishandled the case.

Although it is not wrong for a Tennessee resident to use the same attorney for both a trial and an appeal to the state courts, it is not always advisable for him or her to do so.

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
424 Church Street
Fifth Third Center, Suite 2260
Nashville, TN 37219

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