Carmen Castillo Mitchell
The Appellate Division represents the United States on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit - based in New Orleans, La. - which has jurisdiction over federal appeals from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The Appellate Division handles all the appeals from criminal cases prosecuted by this office, while the Civil Division handles the civil appeals.
By having appellate specialists handle the criminal appeals, this office differs from most United States Attorney’s Offices, where the trial prosecutors handle the appellate litigation. The Assistant United States Attorneys in the Appellate Division write the appellate briefs and present oral arguments on a variety of complex and novel issues involving the constitution, statutory construction and evidentiary and procedural matters. The appeals arise from diverse crimes, such as health care fraud, mortgage fraud, other complex fraud, organized drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, alien smuggling and other immigration offenses. In addition to defending convictions from appellate challenge by criminal defendants, the Appellate Division also brings affirmative appeals to the Fifth Circuit from adverse district court decisions, after consultation with the Solicitor General’s Office and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Not all of the Appellate Division’s work is before the Fifth Circuit. The Appellate Division also responds to post-conviction matters in the Southern District of Texas, such as prisoner petitions challenging conditions of confinement under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and motions to vacate, set aside or correct sentences filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In addition, the Appellate Division advises the trial prosecutors on significant legal issues that arise in the investigation of their cases, in preparation for trial, or on an emergency basis during trial.
The Appellate Division routinely has one of the highest appellate caseloads in the nation among the 94 United States Attorney’s Offices. According to the United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Report for Fiscal Year 2014, the Southern District of Texas had 718 criminal appellate filings and 654 criminal appeals closed. Both numbers are more than any other district.
For current docket information of cases before the Fifth Circuit, please visit the Fifth Circuit Web Site at www.ca5.uscourts.gov