An appeal does not represent another trial that introduces additional evidence in front of a different judge. The appeal process typically focuses on disputed issues of law. A panel of appellate judges can affirm the original decision, which means the decision issued by the original judge or verdict issued by the jury stands as the final judgment. Appellate judges can reverse the decision or verdict. Finally, an appellate court may modify the trial court’s decision and send the case back to the trial court to be re-tried in conformance with the appellate judges instructions on an issue.
Either party involved in a civil dispute can file an appeal based on one or more issues of law. However, the party filing an appeal must have a valid legal reason for an appeal, such as discovering an alleged material error during the original trial.
How Do I Know If I Can File an Appeal?
You have to meet certain requirements to be eligible to file an appeal. Your attorney must prove a procedural, evidential, or legal application error. The error must have influenced the outcome of the civil trial. Moreover, your attorney had to object to the error for it to become preserved in the trial court for future reference. An appellate attorney will review the case to determine whether an error negatively impacted the decision made by the judge or jury hearing your case.
The party that appeals the original decision issued by a judge or jury based on an issue of law is called the Appellant and the other party is called the Respondent. Appeals start with the filing of a notice of appeal, which initiates the period an appellant has to file a brief. The Appellant files a written brief. The role of the brief is to address the facts and law that formed the trial court decision and then argue why the decision was incorrect and ultimately requires a different outcome. In response, the Respondent’s attorney can file a Cross-Appeal raising its own issues to appeal from the trial court’s decision and may address the issues put in dispute by the Appellant’s lawyer.
An appeal can have three possible outcomes.
Confirm the Original Decision
If the appellate court confirms the original decision issued by a civil court judge, the original decision stands. The appellate court affirms the decision issued by the trial court judge.
Reverse the Original Decision
If the appellate court discovers one or more errors that impacted the outcome of the civil trial, the appellate court has the authority to reverse the original decision.
Modify the Decision and Send the Case Back to the Trial Court
In addition to reversing a civil trial decision, the appellate court also can modify the trial court’s decision and send the case back to the trial court to be re-tried in conformance with the appellate court’s decision. The appellant then may go back to the trial court and re-try the limited issues modified on appeal to try and obtain a different outcome.
Alves Radcliffe, LLP — Appellate Attorney
If you need assistance with an appeal, 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.