For criminal defendants who wish to appeal a trial decision in the Court of Common Pleas, their court will go to an intermediate court known as Superior Court. If it's not successful in this court, some people's reaction is to ask their legal representation to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the highest court in the Commonwealth and the oldest appellate court in the nation. Appealing to this court doesn't resemble the process of appealing to a Superior Court for a multitude of reasons. One of the most obvious reasons being that in the majority of cases, there is no automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is given the authority to choose which cases it can review at its own discretion, whereas the Superior Court hears and handles almost all of the cases it gets.
Consequently, the Supreme Court reviews and adjudicates very little cases. Approximately 2,000 requests for an appeal are filed in the Supreme Court each year. Out of these cases, only an estimate of 40-50 cases is chosen for review. Unfortunately, this amount, which is already relatively low, has been steadily decreasing over time.
Reasons for Supreme Court Review
The Supreme Court only grants review for what it considers to be important reasons. Based on the decisions that have been reviewed and adjudicated by the Supreme Court, it can be assumed that some of these reasons include:
- An issue of substantial public importance
- An issue concerning whether a statute is constitutional
- A decision made by the Superior Court that is substantially and plainly wrong
- An issue that has not already been previously decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
- A disagreement among different panels Superior Court on the same issue
- A decision made by the Superior Court that contrasts with a prior decision made by the United States or Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
In the event that a Supreme Court decides to review a case, the likelihood of it reversing the decision of a Superior Court increases. In a Supreme Court review, there is almost always an oral argument. This is when choosing an experienced and skilled lawyer comes in handy. The justices will be well prepared for the case, and will ask questions in rapid succession to expose any weaknesses, inconsistencies, and discrepancies in your position.'
Pennsylvania Criminal Appeals Attorney
In the case of every criminal appeal in Pennsylvania, an experienced and skilled attorney will be able to maximize your chances of success in the state's Supreme Court. Attorney Joseph D. Lento knows what it takes to get your case reviewed and to get your appeal permitted. Contact him today for assistance.