August 21, 2019

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Appellate Law & Court Judgment Appeals

An appeal is a process where the loser in a court case may ask another, higher court (an appellate court or appeals court) to look at (review) and change (overturn) a final decision. There are very specific rules for appeals, and a short time to bring them, so you should immediately contact an Appellate Attorney as soon as an unfavorable decision is entered. View qualified Appellate Law Firms in your area to find Appellate Lawyers to pursue this appeal process.

Who may appeal?

Generally, in civil cases either litigant (participant or party in the case) may request an appeal once a final judgment (where all issues are decided, sometimes called a verdict) is entered. In criminal cases, the defendant may appeal a conviction, but the prosecution may not appeal an acquittal (verdict of not guilty); however, both may appeal the sentence (punishment imposed after a guilty verdict).

How do appeals work?


Typically, a case is filed and first judged in a trial court (sometimes called circuit court, superior court, or district court depending on the jurisdiction). Although each state has its own rules, if a party to that lawsuit is unhappy with the final decision, he/she may appeal to another court, often called the Court of Appeals.

The appealing party (appellant or petitioner) usually has more responsibility for presenting the Court with documents and the trial evidence (filings). The responding party (appellee or respondent) participates. Although it varies by jurisdiction, typical filings include:

  • Notice of Appeal
  • Record on Appeal (all evidence presented, and testimony given, in the trial court)
  • Appellant’s Brief
  • Appellee’s Brief
  • Appellant’s Reply Brief

When the appellate court makes its decision, it will typically enter one of the following orders, alone or in combination:

  • Overturn or Reversal (where the initial decision is rejected in favor of the opposite outcome)
  • Remand (where the lower court must look at the case again)
  • Modify (where only part of the decision is changed)
  • Affirm (where the appellate court agrees with the decision)

If either of the parties is displeased with the appeal decision, he may request another appeal from the highest court in that jurisdiction, usually called the Supreme Court. This is the final review for most legal matters; although in limited circumstances, the United States Supreme Court will hear an appeal from a state or lower federal court.

Administrative Agencies

If your claim has been made through an administrative agency, such as Social Security or Workers Compensation, the process is similar, but with additional layers of appeal. Generally, the process involves:

  • a claim
  • presentation of evidence, perhaps at a hearing
  • appealing a denial within the agency
  • appealing a second denial to the state trial court
  • following the appeals process of the state court (as described above)

Record on Appeal

It is important to realize that the appellate court decides the appeal only by the evidence and testimony (record) presented at trial, so it is imperative to have a thorough and competent trial attorney (litigation attorney). View qualified Litigation Law Firms in your area to find Trial and Litigation Lawyers.

Related areas:

Litigation, Administrative Law, Civil Law¸ Criminal Law, Social Security, Workers Compensation