Appellate practice involves skills that are different than those necessary for trial practice. It involves not only an understanding of the substantive law applicable to the case, but also knowledge of appellate procedure and the identification of issues that will be important to a panel of appellate judges deciding the case. Appellate attorneys are also involved in various aspects of the litigation practice, such as providing advice about how to preserve issues for appeal, recognizing what non-final orders may be immediately appealable, and knowing how to seek discretionary review of trial court rulings. In essence, appellate practice requires a candid assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the case, the potential for affirmance or reversal on appeal, and a strategic assessment of the risks going forward.
Best & Sharp has a rich history of practice in the appellate courts of Oklahoma. When the firm was started over sixty years ago, Mr. Sharp spearheaded this area of practice. His name is associated with innumerable appellate opinions on various topics of law arising out of Best & Sharp’s litigation practice; a brief search of Westlaw reveals that Mr. Sharp was affiliated with over 130 appellate cases arising out of Oklahoma Courts, including seminal cases in the areas of medical malpractice and personal injury defense. See, e.g., Spellman v. Mount, 1984 OK CIV APP 49, 696 P.2d 510; Martin v. Stratton, 1973 OK 124, 515 P.2d 1355; Robinson v. Lane, 1971 OK 9, 460 P.2d 520; Middlebrook v. Imler, 1985 OK 66, 713 P.2d 572; Runyon v. Reid, 1973 OK 25, 510 P.2d 943; Applegate v. Saint Francis Hospital, Inc., 2005 OK CIV APP 28, 112 P.3d 316; Dyke v. Saint Francis Hospital, Inc., et al., 1993 OK 114, 861 P.2d 295; McKellips v. Saint Francis Hospital, et al., 1987 OK 69, 741 P.2d 467; Warner v. Hillcrest Medical Center, 1995 OK CIV APP 123, 914 P.2d 1060; Graham v. Keuchel, 1993 OK 6, 847 P.2d 342. Mr. Sharp also had an active practice in the federal courts of Oklahoma.
That tradition continues today. The firm has an active appellate practice section, headed by Attorney Matthew Free. Clients rely on our firm to analyze legal issues rigorously and creatively, write sophisticated, yet understandable, briefs and efficiently use the limited time at oral argument to persuade judges on the most relevant points. Best & Sharp has achieved favorable results for appellate clients across a wide range of legal issues. The firm practices regularly at the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Consistent with Mr. Sharp’s heritage, the firm continues to be actively involved in numerous appellate proceedings regarding a variety of legal areas. See, e.g., McGee v. Hillcrest, 2001 OK 78, 37 P.3d 800; Parish v. Henry, 2003 OK 62, 97 P.3d 646; Wing v. Lorton, M.D., 2011 OK 42, 261 P.3d 1122; Brown v. Creek County, 2007 OK 56, 164 P.3d 1073; McCormick v. City of McAlester, 525 Fed. Appx. 885 (10th Cir. 2013); Root v. SDI of Owasso d/b/a Sonic, 2011 OK CIV APP 125, 268 P.3d 547; Malloy v. Caldwell, M.D., 2011 OK CIV APP 26, 251 P.3d 183; Fitzgerald v. Corrections Corp. of America, 403 F.3d 1134 (10th Cir. 2005).