Appellate Advocacy at Wyche offers unparalleled service to our clients because we know the landscape. Our lawyers have substantial experience arguing before the United States Supreme Court, United States Courts of Appeals, and the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of South Carolina. We have also clerked on numerous state and appellate courts, including the South Carolina and United States Supreme Courts, and five different federal Circuit Courts. We are unique in that we have former Justice Kaye Hearn from the Supreme Court of South Carolina and Wallace Lightsey as the top ranked lawyer in South Carolina, highlighting the unparalleled experience we bring to our clients.
At Wyche, we understand the critical importance of appellate advocacy in the practice of law. Appeals require a deep understanding of the intricacies of the law, persuasive written and oral advocacy, and an unwavering commitment to achieving favorable outcomes for our clients. Appeals cannot be treated as simply “the next phase” of litigation. Because of our experience, we understand what makes appeals different, the importance of the standard of review, how to preserve issues for appeal, and how to capture the court’s attention. Success on appeal requires unique strategies, knowledge, skills, and approaches. We recognize the importance of strong and concise briefing and presenting exceptional oral argument.
Our appellate lawyers offer a comprehensive range of services, including:
1. Appellate Brief Writing: Our experienced attorneys have a proven track record of crafting persuasive appellate briefs that effectively present legal arguments and portray our clients’ positions in the best possible light, thereby maximizing their chances of success.
2. Oral Advocacy: We excel in oral advocacy, confidently representing our clients before appellate courts. Our attorneys possess exceptional public speaking skills, a deep understanding of how appellate judges analyze cases, and the ability to articulate complex legal arguments with clarity and precision.
3. Appellate Consultation: We provide strategic appellate consultation to trial attorneys and law firms seeking guidance on appellate issues. Preserving issues for appeal can be a minefield, and even very good trial lawyers can be vulnerable on appeal because winning arguments have not been preserved. Our team offers valuable insights, identifies potential appellate issues, and assists in developing persuasive strategies from the early stages of litigation and throughout dispositive motions and trial.
The following experience demonstrates that we have these qualities:
- We sought and obtained certiorari — and an 8-1 reversal — from the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of our client, the shareholder of a corporation that had an ERISA judgment imposed against it in an earlier federal case. The plaintiffs sought to force our client to pay the judgment for benefits owed by the company’s plan. We persuaded the Supreme Court that there is no ancillary federal jurisdiction over a suit filed to collect a federal judgment from a party other than the judgment debtor.
- After obtaining summary judgment for a client accused of violating sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act as a result of alleged restrictions on a distributor’s right to handle competitive products, we persuaded the Fourth Circuit to sustain that judgment on appeal.
- We obtained an important appellate decision from the Fourth Circuit on the public forum doctrine. The Fourth Circuit affirmed an order Wyche obtained from the district court, ruling that an airport was required, on First Amendment grounds, to allow the placement of newspaper vending machines in the airport.
- In a case spanning over ten years and multiple appeals to the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, we represented a minority shareholder in a case alleging oppression by the majority owners. After we won at trial on the issue of liability, the defendants appealed. We won the appeal before the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. On remand, the trial court rendered judgment in our client’s favor for several million dollars. The defendants again appealed, and again we won the appeal. The Supreme Court’s opinion – which was authored by Justice Hearn – is a leading national decision on minority shareholder oppression.
- We represented the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) in an appeal by Duke Energy of a decision of the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) denying Duke Energy’s attempt to apportion the costs of cleaning up an environmental disaster in North Carolina and pass them on to its customers in South Carolina. The PSC excluded from the South Carolina rate base nearly $1 billion in costs incurred by Duke Energy to comply with legislation enacted by the North Carolina legislature in response to an environmental catastrophe involving the discharge of 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in North Carolina. Duke Energy appealed the PSC’s ruling to the South Carolina Supreme Court on a number of grounds, including alleged violations of the constitutional prohibition against taking property without just compensation and the interstate commerce clause. We collaborated with ORS staff attorneys in drafting the appellate briefs and argued the appeal before the state Supreme Court, which ruled in our favor on every issue presented.
With the recent addition of Justice Kaye Hearn to our cadre of exceptional attorneys, Wyche is positioned to grow our appellate practice even further, capitalizing on the core services and experience noted above. Justice Hearn’s legacy as an appellate judge in South Carolina and her insight into the seminal cases from the last several decades, many of which she authored, provide unmatched service to our clients. She knows how appellate judges think and analyze complex issues and the best way to craft and present those arguments to the Court. Having a former Supreme Court Justice join Wallace Lightsey – recognized for the past two years in a row as the top lawyer in the state – on the appellate advocacy team is a great benefit to our firm and to our clients. This is the Wyche advantage we bring to appellate matters.
Wallace K. Lightsey
Wallace is an experienced trial and appellate attorney, with over 60 jury trials in state and federal courts throughout the Southeast, and approximately 100 bench trials, jury trials, and arbitration trials, as well as numerous appeals in the South Carolina appellate courts and the United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Fourth, Sixth, and…