If you wish to appeal your California state conviction, you file your appeal in either the Appellate Division of the Superior Court or in the California Court of Appeal and then, if necessary, with the Supreme Court of California. However, if you wish to appeal your California federal conviction, you would file a California federal appeal with the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit and, if need be, ultimately with the United States Supreme Court.
Not only do the courts differ when it comes to filing appeals, but the rules and regulations differ as well. For example, the filing timelines and deadlines, the length of the written briefs, the time permitted for oral arguments, and the overall “tone” of the California federal appellate system is different from the state system…and, traditionally, more conservative.
Attorneys also need separate bar admission to practice law in California federal courts. This means that if, for example, you wish to appeal your federal conviction, you will have to hire an attorney who is eligible to file a California federal appeal. Many attorneys are able to file California federal appeals as well as California state appeals, because they obtain bar admission to both judicial systems.
The bottom line is to make sure that you consult with an experienced California appeals lawyer should you choose to pursue a California appeal, regardless of whether you are filing in the federal or state courts. Even though there are differences within the two courts, there are even bigger differences between trials and appeals. An attorney who is unfamiliar with appellate law will surely do you a disservice in either court. (Read our related article, Appealing California's Three Strikes Law.)