Judges are supposed to be impartial scholars of the law who interpret existing statutes and prior court precedent to decide what is fair and reasonable. Federal judges have the authority to send someone to federal prison or exonerate them based on their interpretation of the circumstances and the law.
Unfortunately, some judges will allow a personal conflict of interest to compromise their judgment. A judge who has a financial interest in the business victimized by a wire fraud scheme may not give the defendants fair consideration. A judge who has lost a family member to a certain kind of violence might throw the proverbial book at those accused of a similar offense.
If you suspect a conflict of interest affected the judge presiding over your federal prosecution, you may have grounds for an appeal.
If a judge isn’t impartial, their ruling may not be fair
Judges should be honest with themselves and also with the public about when their personal experience, family circumstances or judicial history may compromise their ability to do their job. When a federal judge fails to disclose a possible conflict of interest, they do a disservice to themselves and to the defendant in the case.
Arguably, it is a disservice to the public as well, as a federal appeal could cost the taxpayers thousands. If you uncover a significant conflict of interest after your conviction for a federal offense, bringing information about that conflict to the courts could be grounds for an appeal. In some cases, you may be able to secure a second trial for the judge who will give you the impartial consideration you need to exonerate yourself.
Appeals can be even more complex than criminal proceedings
Federal criminal appeals are subject to federal restrictions and specific legal requirements. Demonstrating that you qualify for an appeal and then making the most of the appeals process can be too much for defendants to handle on their own.
You need the right support to make an appeal worth the investment of your time and effort. Especially if the defense attorney representing you during the initial prosecution failed to do adequate research and uncover a conflict of interest before your day in court, partnering with the same lawyer may not be the best strategy.
Appeals may take even longer than waiting for a standard criminal trial, so patience and a focus on the long-term benefits of your success can help you handle the legal process that is more of a marathon than a sprint. Learning about the circumstances that give you grounds for a federal criminal appeal can help prove your innocence and finally get a fair hearing in court.