Handling appeals represents a distinct form of advocacy. Appellate lawyers for the United States Attorney's Office carefully review the records of trial court proceedings, prepare detailed written briefs and, in most cases, argue their appellate cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which is based in Philadelphia. Third Circuit appellate decisions are generally precedential and govern the disposition of subsequent similar issues litigated in the district courts of the Third Circuit, which includes federal courts in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands.
The Appellate Division's caseload involves a wide variety of legal issues and different types of substantive law. In many cases, Appellate Division attorneys represent the United States in appeals filed by criminal defendants who are seeking appellate review of their convictions or sentences. The remainder of the criminal appeals typically involves other federal offenses such as large-scale drug conspiracies, immigration and firearms offenses, and child pornography cases.
The Appellate Division also handles civil appeals which result from civil claims brought by the government or against it. These appellate cases include defending against tort claims brought by individuals or representing federal agencies in challenges to their administrative actions. Civil appeals can also include cases in which the United States has brought an action to advance or enforce a federal right.
Kim L. Chisholm is the chief of the Appellate Division.