Representing Clients in California and in Federal Courts Throughout the United States

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Appeals, Writs And Habeas Corpus Petitions

Sometimes an individual charged with a crime does not get a fair result or a just verdict. If you have been convicted after trial, or even agreed to a plea bargain and sentence that you later come to believe was a mistake, there is a chance to get a better result. If the judge in the superior court or district court makes a ruling that significantly hurts your defense, there is a way to seek a better decision before trial.

Sugarman & Cannon handles all types of post-conviction matters, such as appeals and habeas corpus petitions. We also file pretrial writs to an appellate court while the charges are still pending in the trial court. With more than three decades of legal experience, our lawyers understand the rules and laws governing these appellate procedures. Filing an appeal, writ or habeas corpus petition is an option a client should consider after an unfavorable decision or verdict. Contact us to learn more.

Experienced Appellate Guidance From San Francisco Post-Conviction Attorneys

Our San Francisco appellate lawyers handle both state and federal appeals. As trial attorneys, we prepare and argue our own cases while aware an appeal may be necessary in the future. This improves our chances of prevailing on appeal. However, at least half of our appeals are those we take from other attorneys who do not accept appellate work or whose clients would like to change lawyers.

Whether we are appealing on behalf of our client or a client who had been represented by another attorney, we have the skills to be persuasive advocates.


A less-often used procedure to seek review in a higher court is a writ, which addresses issues that cannot be addressed on appeal or that need immediate attention. A writ may be filed in some situations while a criminal case is pending in a trial court, and in other situations on behalf of an individual who has already been convicted.

Writs are used by appellate judges to alter a decision of a lower court or to require the lower court to take specific action. There are a number of types of writs available to individuals pending trial or who have been convicted in California. Our attorneys are experienced in their use and the preparation required to prevail.

Habeas Corpus Petitions

A habeas corpus petition is a civil matter that contests a defendant’s incarceration or restriction imposed as a sanction in a criminal case. Like appeals, a petition for a writ of habeas corpus requires excellent legal research and writing skills. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus usually focuses on issues such as the failure to object to illegally obtained evidence, the failure to present exculpatory evidence or the failure to investigate a defense, as well as facts that were not presented at the client’s trial. We have successfully undertaken many habeas corpus actions in both state and federal courts.

  • We have the experience − We have represented scores of clients on appeal from their conviction and/or sentence or in writs both in the California and federal appellate courts.
  • We have the knowledge − We have represented clients in appeals in all kinds of cases, whether the conviction was for a misdemeanor, murder or complex white collar crime.
  • We are committed − We have overturned convictions by spotting errors so obvious that a well-crafted letter to the prosecutor was enough to convince the state to set aside the conviction. For another client, we had to file three separate appeals before justice was obtained. In every case we accept, we work hard for the clients we represent. And we will take the time to explain to you and your family how an appeal, other post-conviction proceeding or writ will be conducted and what you can expect to occur.

Among the cases we have handled on appeal or in a post-conviction proceeding are:

  • We represented a client convicted of two murders and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. We successfully argued in the California Court of Appeal that the conviction was the result of a statement taken in violation of our client’s Fifth Amendment rights and the Miranda rule. That victory eliminated one of the convictions. We then filed a federal habeas corpus petition in federal court, and persuaded the 9th Circuit on appeal to overturn the second murder conviction.
  • We represented a man serving a 30-year federal prison sentence after a conviction for drug and weapons charges in Los Angeles. We filed a habeas petition, and after initially losing before the judge who originally found our client guilty, succeeded in convincing the United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit to set aside the conviction.
  • We represented a client who was convicted of 10 felony counts related to an alleged fraudulent transaction while represented by another attorney. In the appeal, we persuaded the appellate court to reverse eight of the 10 convictions. Back in the trial court, we persuaded the judge to reduce the remaining convictions to misdemeanor offenses and to terminate her probation.

Contact Our San Francisco Appellate Law Firm

To speak with an experienced criminal appeals lawyer, contact Scott Sugarman or Chris Cannon. Call our San Francisco law firm at 415-362-6252 to discuss your situation.