Criminal Appellate Law Certification

by Rick Wetzel on January 3, 2012

Last year the Texas Board of Legal Specialization recognized a new board specialization in criminal appellate law.  The Board recently notified me that I am in the first group of Texas attorneys to be board certified in criminal appellate law.  The practice of criminal appellate law includes: appeals in state and federal courts; original filings in appellate courts for extraordinary relief; and applications for habeas corpus relief in state and federal courts.

Courts of Practice

The courts in which criminal appellate law are practiced include: the United States Supreme Court; United States Circuit Courts of Appeals; Texas Supreme Court exercising jurisdiction over adjudications in a juvenile case; Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Texas Courts of Appeals; Texas District Courts; and the United States District Courts.

Substantial Involvement

The applicant must show substantial involvement and special competence in criminal appellate law practice in order to become certified.  The applicant must have devoted a minimum of 25% of his or her time practicing criminal appellate law during each year of the three years immediately preceding application.

Required Tasks

In order to become certified, an applicant is required to have been lead counsel in at least 50 criminal appellate law matters during his entire practice with at least 25 of the cases completed in the three years prior to certification.  An applicant must have presented oral argument in at least five cases at a Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a United States Circuit Court of Appeals, or the United States Supreme Court.


The applicant must submit references to attest to his or her competence in criminal appellate law. These persons must be substantially involved in criminal appellate law, and be familiar with applicant’s criminal appellate law practice.  The references include four Texas attorneys who are substantially involved in criminal appellate law and one judge of any court of record in Texas whom the applicant has appeared before as an advocate in a criminal appellate law matter.

A Second Certification

This certification is my second from TBLS.  I was certified in criminal law in 1989 and have been recertified every five years thereafter.  Please let me know if I may serve your criminal appellate law needs.

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