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Filing for a Certificate of Appealability in Federal Court

Posted by Ann Fitz | May 03, 2023 | 0 Comments

If you have been filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court and intend to appeal the dismissal, you will need to file a certificate of appealability (COA). This document is necessary in order to ensure that your case will be heard by the US Court of Appeals. A COA is a formal request to the court asking them to consider your case and decide whether or not it merits further review. Let's take a closer look at what's involved in filing for a certificate of appealability.

What Is a Certificate of Appealability?

A certificate of appealability is an official document issued by the court that states that a person has grounds for an appeal and should be allowed to proceed with their case. It also allows the appellant (the person filing the appeal) access to certain documents, such as transcripts and evidence, which may be necessary in order to make their argument before the appellate court. Without this certificate, the appeals court would not even consider hearing their case.

How Do I File for a Certificate of Appealability?

Generally speaking, the process for filing for a certificate of appealability involves submitting an application either directly or through an attorney or other representative. The appellant (you) have the burden of convincing the appellate court that the issue you are seeking to appeal is debatable among jurists of reason.  This argument is presented in a full brief to the Court of Appeals. You will also need to pay any applicable fees associated with filing for a COA.

What are the Odds of Getting A COA?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your request for a COA will be granted; however, the standard is not onerous and a skilled federal criminal defense attorney will help you make a compelling argument.

Filing for a certificate of appealability can be daunting—especially if you don't know what's involved—but understanding exactly what it entails can help make the process smoother and more successful. Appealing 2255 petitions can often times feel like an uphill battle; however, with proper preparation and assistance from knowledgeable legal professionals, it is possible to get your case heard by the US Court of Appeals. Ultimately, if you have compelling evidence or arguments regarding factual errors or constitutional violations committed during proceedings in the lower court then you may stand an excellent chance at receiving approval on your request for a COA.

About the Author

Ann Fitz

Attorney Ann Fitz Attorney Ann Fitz has 20 years of experience as a federal criminal attorney and appellate practice attorney.  She began her career as a prosecutor in 2003 and started her own federal criminal defense practice in 2007.  She is devoted to protecting the rights of the accused in f...


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