All defendants convicted of a felony, regardless of whether that conviction was the result of a plea or conviction after trial, are entitled to appeal their conviction as a matter of right. Defendants convicted of misdemeanors, although not entitled to an appeal as a matter of right, often appeal their convictions. Attorneys and support staff assigned to the Appeals Bureau are responsible for such post-conviction litigation. The Appeals Bureau handles approximately 1000 state court appellate filings and approximately 30 federal habeas corpus proceedings annually.
A typical appeal requires a prosecutor to read a 500-2000 page transcript, research all legal issues raised by a defendant, write a legal brief and argue the issues before the appellate court. A defendant will typically file a minimum of four appeals: a motion to set aside the verdict (made in County or Supreme Court), followed by an appeal to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, followed by an appeal to the Court of Appeals, followed by a writ of habeas corpus filed in Federal Court. This process often lasts over ten years. Prosecutors assigned to the Appeals Bureau must also respond to petitions for writs of error coram nobis, CPLR Article 78 petitions, motions to unseal records, and Freedom of Information (FOIL) requests.