Appellate Practice

Tom’s appellate practice began in law school through an internship at the California Attorney General’s office, in which he drafted a number of criminal appellate briefs defending judgments in criminal cases on behalf of the People of the State of California.

Several years after becoming a licensed attorney in California, Tom successfully represented a number of civil litigants, including Stanford University Hospital, before the California Sixth District Court of Appeals. One of these cases resulted in a published opinion: Zavala v. Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford, Jr., University,16 Cal. App. 4th 1755 (1993).

In 1994, Tom agreed to take an public interest case constitutional law case representing several citizens against the City of San Jose in their challenge of a statue installed in a city park and paid for by public funds. This case culminated in briefing and arguing the case before the United States Ninth Circuit Court of appeals in a satisfying but unsuccessful effort. Alvarado v. City of San Jose, 94 F.3d 1223 (1996).

In 1999, Tom began representing criminal defendants before the California Sixth District Court of Appeal, through the Sixth District Appellate Program, filing briefs and arguing each case before the Sixth District.

In 2010, Tom was accepted to a panel of appellate attorneys by the North Carolina Appellate Defender, and began representing criminal defendants in their appeals of criminal judgments, and parents appealing judgments in abuse, neglect, dependency and termination of parental rights cases, before the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Tom has filed appellate briefs in more than 75 of these cases. Tom has enjoyed successful results in a number of these cases, including published decisions in the following: In re I.R.C., 214 N.C. App. 358, 714 S.E.2d 495 (2011); In re L.L.O., __ N.C. App. __, 799 S.E.2d 59 (2017). After a successful result in one case before the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Tom had the opportunity to brief and argue the case in a losing effort before the North Carolina Supreme Court. In re L.M.T., 367 N.C. 165, 752 S.E.2d 453 (2013)

Based on his extensive appellate experience and trial-level experience over 30 years, Tom is available to accept appeals in any number of substantive areas of law, evaluate potential appeals, and provide appellate consultations to attorneys and litigants.