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After Brittney Griner was given an "absolutely unreasonable" sentence of nine years in a Russian prison for drug possession back in August, her lawyers quickly filed an appeal. After nearly three months of waiting, that appeal hearing will begin in a Russian court Tuesday.
"Appeal is a pretty straightforward legal process in Russia," says her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, tells PEOPLE.
Blagovolina explains that the appeals process, once it begins, is typically very short in Russia, and that there will only be one or two hearings for Griner's case.
"In this case, I think it'll be one hearing," she tells PEOPLE. A representative for Griner said they expect the verdict to be read on the same day, barring any "technical or organizational issues" that may impact the result.
Griner, 32, will attend Tuesday's hearing virtually. "She will be present by video conference," says Blagovolina. "That's the usual approach for their view."
Strategically, Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, another lawyer defending Griner, hope the hearing allows the judge "to reconsider some existing arguments which were not properly reviewed and assessed by the court" during her trial on August 4.
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Griner's team will present her defense in front of a different court from the one that oversaw her initial trial, says Blagovolina. "It's the higher instance and different judges."
Blagovolina says her team has "reviewed the sentence" and will identify a "few points which we disagree with," during Tuesday's hearing.
"As a matter of fact, we could say that none of the arguments [they presented] were taken into consideration by the first court."
Moreover, Griner's lawyer tells PEOPLE, "There were arguments both for the acquittal because of the procedural flaws during the detainment and the investigation, and also for the reducing of the sentence," which Blagovolina says "ended up being an unprecedented sentence for Russian judicial practice."
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Blagovolina says a typical sentence for crimes similar to Griner's — she was charged with smuggling drugs — is "never more than six years" and sometimes, "even less, much less."
Griner's attorney is hopeful that the appeal will result in a reduced term, but "we don't have any exact numbers," she says.
And Griner is aware that the appeal may not be successful, Blagovolina said through the WNBA star's representatives.
"She is prepared for the appeal and is very nervous," Blagovolina said. "Brittney does not expect any miracles to happen, but hopes that the appeal court will hear the arguments of the defense and reduce the number of years."
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A spokesperson for Griner stated that alternative outcomes of Tuesday's hearing include the appeal court "leaving the verdict as is," or "it can overrule it and send [it] back to the court" that heard her first trial.
After Griner was sentenced to nine years on August 4, her lawyers said that the verdict, just below the maximum sentence of 10 years, is "absolutely unreasonable" and said they will "certainly file an appeal."
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A Russian judge read Griner, 31, her verdict about an hour after her lawyers and the prosecution presented their closing arguments.
The Phoenix Mercury star had given an emotional speech, reiterating her stance that though she pled guilty to bringing less than 1 gram of cannabis oil into Russia, she had done so "inadvertently," and asked the court for leniency.
In the months since, Griner has held it together as well as possible, Blagovolina said.
"Brittney is very mentally strong and has a champion's character. However, she of course has her highs and lows as she is under an increasing amount of stress and has been separated from her loved ones for over eight months."