Frequently Asked Questions
Will the Court appoint counsel for me?
Both case law and statutes strictly limit the situations in which the Court can appoint counsel or request the services of volunteer counsel. Generally counsel is appointed only if you cannot afford to retain counsel and your appeal involves complex criminal, habeas corpus, or civil rights issues. To request the Court to appoint counsel, you should file a motion for the appointment of counsel stating reasons why counsel is necessary, and serve opposing counsel.
How is my case decided?
Once all briefs have been filed (appellant's and appellee's), your case will be placed in a ready pool. Cases that were ready before yours will be sent by the Clerk to the Court first.
The judges will very carefully analyze the lower court records, briefs, and appendices in your case. Oral argument is not a right. The judges will ask for oral argument only when they think it will be useful in deciding a case. 3rd Cir. LAR 34.1. If the Court orders oral argument, you will be notified by the clerk ten (10) days in advance. Otherwise, the case is considered only on the record, briefs, and appendix. Three judges will decide your case, applying the appropriate legal standards. Note: it is inappropriate to contact the judges directly. Direct all correspondence to the Clerk's Office.
Will there be an opinion?
According to Internal Operating Procedure Chapter 6, the judges will write opinions only when there is reason to do so. There is no right to an opinion. If the panel members agree unanimously that the district court decision was not clearly erroneous, that a jury verdict is supported by the facts, that the record supports an agency decision, that no error of law is present, that the district court did not abuse its discretion, or that the court lacks jurisdiction, the Court may affirm the decision of the district court by JUDGMENT ORDER.
What if I lose?
Despite your arguments to the contrary, you may lose an appeal. If you disagree with this Court's final decision, you may file a petition for rehearing in this Court. The Clerk's Office will send information regarding petitions for rehearing at the appropriate time. Alternatively, you may file a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States, 1 First Street, N.E., Washington, D.C., 20543. Contact that Court for further information (202-479-3000).