The Appeals Process

An appeal is formal request to reopen or reexamine an official judgment or judicial decision. The specific process for appealing a decision or judgment can vary by jurisdiction or Court. Regardless of the Court or jurisdiction, an appeal is started when the party filing the appeal or the appellant files a notice of appeal with the appropriate Appellate Court, Courts of Appeals, or Appeals Court. The notice may also have to be filed with the original lower Court. Any party of the original dispute (plaintiff, defendant, or respondent) is entitled to file an appeal if they are unsatisfied with the lower Court's ruling. The party filing the appeal is referred to as the appellant or petitioner and the opposing party is referred to as the respondent or the appellee. The appellant is the party who lost their claim (all or in part) in the lower Court's decision and is appealing to a higher Court to have their case reconsidered.

Notice of Appeal

In order for any party to appeal a judgment or decision of a Court, the filing party must file a, "Notice of Appeal." This is a form or document that must be filed and is required to begin an appeal. The notice must outline the grounds for the filing. Appeals can be filed for a number of reasons including:

  • Errors of law
  • Misrepresentation of facts
  • Mishandled legal procedure

Filing a Notice of Appeal is subject to deadlines established by the jurisdiction hearing the case.

Appeal Process

The Appellate Court will examine the recorded body of evidence presented in the original trial and the process of law and procedure applied by the lower Court to check for any misrepresentation of facts, misapplication of law, or any other questionable processes in procedure that could have tainted or swayed the outcome of the original trial.

If the Appellate Court finds no defect with the original judgment, it will "affirm" the judgment or let it stand. However, should the Appellate Court find a legal defect in the decision by the lower Court, it can modify the decision or reverse the decision by the lower Court or any part of the decision that the Appellate Court finds unjustified or questionable. The Court of appeals may also send the case back to the lower Court for further review and proceedings to allow the lower Court to remedy the defect.

Trial De Novo

If the Appellate Court decides to review the lower Court's decision completely, it is known as, "Trial De Novo." Trial de Novo can challenge all aspects of the original trial and is particularly evoked when a lower Court decides on informal proceedings such as a pre-trial motion to dismiss a case or in a motion for summary judgment. The whole case may be reheard by the Appellate Court or the decision of the lower Court may even be rendered unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals. A formal notice of the decision by the Appellate Court is mandated and conveyed to the trial Court by the clerk of the trial Court. This mandate constitutes the final judgment on the case.