The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has set the Franck's case on the oral argument tentative calendar to be held in Atlanta during the week of October 29, 2012. The actual date and time of the oral argument will be announced later. As previously, discussed on this blog, here is an overview of the appellate process:
Jurisdiction of 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
The Franck's case is currently pending at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. I thought a short discussion of federal appellate procedure might be helpful. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:
1. Middle District of Alabama
2. Northern District of Alabama
3. Southern District of Alabama
4. Middle District of Florida
5. Northern District of Florida
6. Southern District of Florida
7. Middle District of Georgia
8. Northern District of Georgia
9. Southern District of Georgia
What the 11th Circuit Can Consider
A federal appellate court is generally only allowed to consider the record that was established in the district court. There are some exceptions, but for the most part if the evidence or information was not presented in the district court then the 11th Circuit will not be allowed to consider it on appeal. The same principle generally applies to legal arguments made on appeal. If the argument was not made in the district court, there is a strong chance it will be considered waived or forfeited on appeal. Again there are exceptions.
Once briefing is done in Francks, the case will be submitted to a panel of three judges to review the district court decision. Approximately three-fourths of the court's cases are decided on the briefs submitted by the parties, while the remaining cases include oral argument. Oral arguments are held in the Elbert P. Tuttle United States Court of Appeals Building in Atlanta, Georgia and are open to the public. Oral arguments are also held in Florida (Jacksonville and Miami) and Alabama (Montgomery). Most likely in Franck's the judges will set the case for oral argument because the parties have requested oral argument. Each side's attorneys will get 15 minutes to argue the position of the party represented. The amicus curiae who filed briefs in the Franck's case may participate in oral argument only with the court's permission.
Timing of Decision
After oral argument, the appellate court will issue a decision. There is no time limit on when the decision has to be issued. Some cases can take over a year before an appellate court issues its opinion.
The Written Opinion
The opinion will consist of a written analysis that reviews the district court's decision. The appellate court can (1) affirm the district court decision; (2) reverse the district court decision; (3) modify the district court decision or (4) remand the case for further the district court to make further factual findings. This decision will be binding only in the states listed above that make up the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. It will be persuasive authority in all other states, but those federal courts will not be bound by the decision and can reach a totally contrary result if presented with the issue. Only if the issue is decided by the United States Supreme Court will the decision be binding in all federal courts.
Options of Losing Party
At that point, the losing party can file a (1) petition for rehearing before the three judge panel, (2) file a petition for rehearing en banc before the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (3) petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court or (4) accept the decision and implement whatever it says. A court of appeals is not required to grant a petition for rehearing before the three judge panel or before the full court. Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court would not be required to grant certiorari. Each of the first three options has different legal standards that must be met.