Full-service legal representation requires not only skilled trial attorneys to guide your case through the trial court, but also attorneys experienced in appellate practice to help navigate the complexities of the appellate process.
Knowing when and how to appeal a decision from a trial court or how to respond to an opponent's appeal requires skills and experience significantly different from those used before the trial court.
Because of the specialized nature of appellate practice, Heyl Royster provides a separate appellate advocacy team staffed by lawyers skilled in appellate practice. This team includes lawyers with over 40 combined years of practice focused on appellate advocacy. Attorneys in the group bring further expertise to the handling of your appeal with sub-concentrations in substantive areas of the law, such as medical malpractice, workers' compensation, and federal civil rights law.
Comprehensive appellate services offered by the practice group:
The Appellate Advocacy Team not only handles all aspects of an appeal including establishing appellate jurisdiction, notices of appeal, drafting briefs, selection of issues for appeal, and oral argument but also has extensive experience in pre-appellate matters, such as:
Why hire experienced appellate counsel?
Using experienced appellate counsel is an essential step in the successful handling of an appeal. Appellate attorneys provide unique expertise and familiarity with appellate rules and procedures and offer a fresh perspective on the case. While trial attorneys are experts in marshalling facts, presenting evidence, and persuading juries, appellate attorneys employ their skills at research and writing to help craft issues and formulate arguments to maximize your opportunity for success on appeal. Experienced appellate counsel help by selecting only the most significant issues for appeal and then presenting those issues for consideration in a concise, coherent manner, in both written and oral argument.
Our diverse experience includes appeals of cases tried by our firm in the trial courts, as well as cases tried by others, where our involvement begins at the appellate level. Clients frequently refer cases to us regardless of whether they are the appellant or appellee, confident that we have total familiarity with the complex appellate rules and procedures, and that our staff includes appellate advocates well-skilled in the persuasive analytical writing and speaking so necessary to prevail in the appellate arena.
Our Appellate Advocacy Team has significant experience and involvement in professional associations.
Craig Unrath, the Practice Group Chair, is a past President of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association (2007-08) and has been recognized as Top Lawyer in Illinois in the area of Appellate Practice, and an Illinois "Super Lawyer". He is a member of the DRI and serves on the Amicus Committee for the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (IDC). He is also a member of the American Bar Association's Tort and Insurance Practice Appellate Section.
Brad Elward is past President of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association. He has been recognized as an Illinois "Super Lawyer" in Appellate Practice since 2008 and is a member of the Illinois Association of Defense Counsel (IDC), where he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Quarterly publication, and formerly authored the Appellate Practice Column of the IDC Quarterly. Brad is the Co-General Editor of the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) volume on Illinois Civil Appeals, State and Federal, and is a frequent author and speaker on appellate issues.
The Appellate Practice Group has also been asked to write several amicus briefs before the Illinois Supreme Court for the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel. These cases include:
Interstate Scaffolding, Inc. v. Workers' Compensation Comm'n, 236 Ill. 2d 132, 923 N.E.2d 266 (2010) (an employer owes total temporary disability benefits for that period of time when the employee is not at maximum medical improvement even where the employee is terminated for violating company rules).
Karas v. Strevell, 227 Ill. 2d 440, 884 N.E.2d 122 (2008) (complaint for negligence for injury to high school hockey player dismissed against opposing hockey players, officials, and hockey association).
Smith v. Illinois Central R.R. Co., 223 Ill. 2d 441, 860 N.E.2d 332 (2006) (refusal to certify class action in train wreck litigation because common issues of fact and law did not predominate).
Reeder v. Auto Owners Ins. Co., 2016 IL App (3d) 150252-U, the Third District Appellate Court affirmed a trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant in a case where plaintiffs claimed they were entitled to coverage under an insurance policy issued to the prior owner of car. The appellate court found that, following the sale of the car, the prior owners had no insurable interest in the vehicle. In addition, the court found that the omnibus clause of the policy could not be interpreted as offering coverage to the purchasers of the car.
In Bond v. Walsh, 2015 IL App (4th) 150015-U, the Appellate Court, Fourth District, affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint based on the existence of a previously filed pro se complaint that had not been properly dismissed. The plaintiff Bond had filed a pro se complaint alleging violations of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act against several Champaign County deputies. The complaint was never served. The pro se litigant moved to voluntarily dismiss that complaint, but never called the motion for hearing. She then obtained counsel and filed a federal complaint against many of the same defendants, raising claims under federal constitutional law and re-asserting the claims under the Domestic Violence Act. When her federal claim was dismissed, she refiled her Domestic Violence Act claims in state court and added additional defendants, which drew a section 2-619(a) motion to dismiss by the defendants.
The circuit court granted the motion, which was upheld by the appellate court. The appellate court found that the prior pro se complaint had never been dismissed and that it involved the same parties, even though there were additional defendants added to the refiled claim. The court found that the named defendants in both filings had sufficiently similar interests to qualify as the "same defendants" even though some were different. Moreover, the court concluded that the refiled case constituted "multiple claims," which the dismissal provision was designed to remedy. Finally, the court concluded that any prejudice the plaintiff faced by having to resort to her previously filed pro se complaint – namely, that she could not now pursue claims against some of the defendants due to the expiration of the statute of limitations – were of her own making.
In Bowman v. Ottney, 2015 IL 119000, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a voluntary dismissal and refiling of a cause of action did not "reset the clock" with respect to the substitution of a judge who previously made substantial rulings in the prior litigation. The plaintiff had filed a medical malpractice claim, which was assigned to Judge David Overstreet. During the litigation, the judge made several substantive rulings, some of which involved the disclosure of expert opinions. The plaintiff moved to voluntarily dismiss the original complaint, and refiled the action as a new matter. The case was assigned to the same judge. In the re-filed case, the plaintiff moved for substitution of judge as a matter of right, which Judge Overstreet denied on the basis that he had made substantial rulings in the previously-filed litigation. The parties appealed a certified question and the appellate court affirmed.
The Illinois Supreme Court held that Judge Overstreet properly exercised his discretion in denying the motion to substitute judge filed in the second case because he had made substantial rulings in the prior case. According to the Court, the language of the statute empowering a party to seek substitution of judge (735 ILCS 5/2-1001) was broad enough to refer to all proceedings between the parties involving the same cause of action in which the judge has made substantial rulings.
Zimmerman v. Doran, 807 F.3d 178 (7th Cir. 2015), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of defendants in a case where plaintiff claimed his constitutional rights were violated due to an alleged false arrest and deprivation of property without due process. The Court of Appeals found that the officers had probable cause to arrest plaintiff for trespassing, were entitled to qualified immunity, and did not violate plaintiff's substantive due process rights.
Listed below are some of the areas of appellate practice where we are most active:
Seminars and Speaking Engagements
"Using Interlocutory Appeals in Your Case,” Winnebago County Bar Association (2015)
“Stays, Bonds and Sureties,” Illinois Appellate Practice Institute-Chicago, IICLE (2015)
“Appellate Issues in Workers' Compensation Cases Affecting Governmental Employers,” The Crossroads of Governmental Law, Workers' Compensation & You, Heyl Royster Fall Seminar (2015)
“Better Briefs and Oral Arguments," Advanced Appellate Practice Seminar, Peoria County Bar (2015)
“Administrative Appeals for Governmental Lawyers,” Peoria County Bar Association (2015)
“Workers Compensation Appeals,” Sterling Education Services (2015)
“Judicial Reviews to the Circuit Court,” ALA Administrative Seminar (2014)
"Workers' Compensation Appeals to the Commission, Circuit and Appellate Court," Winnebego County Bar Association (2011)
"Recent Changes and Developments in Illinois Workers' Compensation Appeals/Recent Cases," IDC Fall Seminar (2011)
"Oral Argument Tips and Strategies," Illinois Appellate Lawyers' Association Seminar (2010)
"Petitions for Rehearing and Petitions for Leave to Appeal," Illinois Appellate Lawyers' Association Seminar (2010)
Admiral Insurance Company
Catholic Diocese of Peoria
Cincinnati Insurance Companies
Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc.
G & D Trucking
Henkels & McCoy, Inc.
Kraft Foods, Inc.
ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
Martin Boyer Company
Mitsubishi Motors of North America
St. John's Hospital, Springfield
St. Mary's Hospital, Decatur
University of Illinois