The Appeals Unit defends all criminal convictions obtained by the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office, when those convictions are challenged on appeal or by collateral attack. The unit includes attorneys, legal assistants and law student interns. The Appellate Unit provides advice to trial attorneys in the office and reviews forms, charging language and jury instructions to make sure they are up to date.
The majority of the unit's caseload is comprised of direct appeals, which is the first level of appellate review that is constitutionally available to every person convicted of a crime. In an appeal, the appellate court reviews the record of what happened in the trial court for legal errors. A very small percentage of the unit's caseload involves appeals initiated by this office where we seek to have a trial court decision overturned. A criminal defendant may also try to challenge his conviction in a collateral attack, usually in the form of a personal restraint petition (PRP). Every appeal and collateral attack requires the filing of at least one legal brief or pleading.