What is an Appeal?
An appeal represents the legal process that involves asking an appellate court to review a decision made by a judge during a civil trial. The appellate attorney files an appeal not to initiate another civil trial, but instead, to make the case that the judge who heard the arguments during the civil trial made one or more mistakes concerning the law. One party that files the appeal is called the appellant, while the party that faces an appeal is called the appellee. The court that hears an appeal is called the appellate court or the court of appeals.
You can file an appeal only after your case has established a final ruling, although there are a few exceptions to the rule. The few exceptions include filing an “interlocutory appeal,” which appeals a decision issued by a judge during an ongoing case. Appealing a trial court decision does not stop the decision from going into effect. You must follow the decision issued by the judge who heard your case until your appeal is resolved.
An appeal is not a legal process that allows you to introduce new evidence. The appellate judges hearing an appeal review the record of what transpired during the civil trial.
What Does an Appellate Court Do?
The procedures followed by an appellate court establish the legal foundation for reviewing the decision issued by the judge hearing the original civil lawsuit. For both state and federal jurisdictions, the result of an appeal is considered the final judgment of a civil case unless the appellate court committed a basic judicial error or violated the United States Constitution.
Legal issues surrounding an appeal involve the legal briefs written by the attorneys representing each party. The legal briefs list several questions, as well as present the legal arguments in support of the positions taken by the plaintiff and the defendant. As the plaintiff in an appeal of a lower court’s decision, your appellate attorney files an appeal with a court that is part of the same judicial system in which the initial civil lawsuit received consideration.
Appellate courts follow one of two standards when reviewing what transpired during a civil trial. The abuse of discretion standard requires an appellate court to reverse the decision made by a civil judge only if, in light of the applicable law and considering all the relevant circumstances, the trial court’s decision exceeds the bounds of reason and results in a miscarriage of justice. An appellate court also can discover an abuse of discretion when the civil trial judge issued a decision on a mistaken finding of fact.
If an appellate court applies the “de novo” standard, the appellate court does not defer to the decision issued by the civil trial judge. The appellate court determines the appropriate ruling to issue and applies the ruling as part of the appeal decision. Appellate courts typically follow the De Novo standard when determining issues of law. Of the two standards, the De Novo standard is considered the best way to appeal a civil verdict because it’s a “brand-new” look at the case.
What Are the Costs Associated with an Appeal?
The cost of an appeal depends on several factors such as the amount of time to review the underlying trial materials, obtaining a trial transcript, the number of issues to appeal from, whether the issues are novel or complex, and the attorney’s time to prepare the appeal and attend oral argument. Ask your appellant lawyer during the case evaluation for a cost estimate for filing an appeal.
Alves Radcliffe, LLP — Appellate Attorney
If you need assistance, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.