DCA is Often Only Chance to Win on Appeal.

Almost weekly I receive calls from potential clients who have lost a case at a District Court of Appeal, and want to take the case further.  I had just such a call yesterday. They are often shocked and disappointed to learn that, for the vast majority of cases, the only appeal they are guaranteed is the appeal to the District Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is a court of limited jurisdiction, and there is an even smaller subset of cases in which the Supreme Court must grant review.  And, if you get a ruling  at a District Court of Appeal that is a per curiam affirmed  decision,  or a PCA as known in the lingo,  in most cases there is no possibility of appealing a PCA to the Florida Supreme Court.

There are limited circumstances under which a decision from a District Court of Appeal might be taken to the US Supreme Court by way of a petition for certiorari, but again these are very limited circumstances.

Consequently, if you have a good case, your best shot at winning an appeal will be at the  District Court of Appeal level. And, this means that you need to consider obtaining experienced appellate counsel. Most attorneys do not handle appeals, and unfortunately, mistakes are often made when trial counsel handles an appeal, unless they routinely handle appeals. The same can be said if you are going to take a case on appeal pro se, it’s a risky proposition.

So, be aware that in most cases you have one shot at winning a case on appeal, and a loss at a DCA is usually going to mean a final loss.   It is never fun to handle that call when someone has lost the case at the District Court of Appeal, and is hoping we can now save them on an appeal to the next level,  but it turns out an appeal to the next level is not an option.

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