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Understanding The Appeals Process



Understanding The Appeals Process

Filing for appellate review offers an invaluable chance to correct errors made by a trial court. However, an appeal is not a simple opportunity to re-try your case. On appeal, the court will consider a narrow list of arguments and engage in a limited review of your case.

Trial courts have been reversed on appeal for all of the following mistakes:

  • Error of law - Sometimes the judge misunderstands the law or applies it incorrectly. Appellate judges do not defer to legal conclusions reached by lower courts.
  • Abuse of discretion - Trial courts have substantial leeway to interpret the parties' arguments and determine which side's testimony is more persuasive. However, the judge's ruling must be based on the evidence; arbitrary decisions will be reversed on appeal.
  • Insufficient evidence - An appeals court may review the evidence that was presented against you. If the court concludes that no reasonable fact finder could have ruled against you, you will win your appeal.

Locate An Appeals Attorney

In most cases, an appeals court will not question the trial court's decisions on issues of fact, focusing instead on the trial court's rulings on legal issues. If the trial court heard conflicting testimony and chose to believe one side's testimony over the other's, that determination cannot be challenged on appeal. Experienced appellate attorneys, however, are adept at identifying legal errors in a lower court's ruling. Even if the trial court simply chose not to believe your testimony, your lawyer will work to identify a legal error that requires a new trial.

Contact An Appeals Attorney

To successfully file an appeal, you must follow a number of exacting requirements. You must file the appropriate documents with the appropriate parties within the relevant time limits, and your brief must raise all of the issues you wish to argue on appeal. The appeals court will refuse to consider any issues you do not raise at the first opportunity. These requirements may seem daunting, but an appeals attorney can ensure that your arguments will be heard on review. If you believe that a lower court erroneously ruled against you, contact an appeals lawyer today.