appeal | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Procedural Law

An appeal is a request made after a trial by a party that has lost on one or more issues that a higher court reviews the decision to determine if it was correct.

To make such a request is “to appeal” or “to take an appeal.” One who appeals is called the “appellant;” the other party is the “appellee.”

In the American legal system, an appeal is a process by which a party who has lost in a trial court seeks a review of the decision by a higher court. This can occur in both civil and criminal cases, and the purpose of an appeal is to ensure that the trial court’s decision was correct and fair.

To initiate an appeal, the party that lost in the trial court files a notice of appeal with the appropriate appellate court. This notice must be filed within a certain period of time, typically 30 days after the trial court’s decision is entered. The party must then submit a brief to the appellate court, outlining the legal and factual arguments for why the trial court’s decision was incorrect.

Once the appeal has been filed, the appellate court will review the trial court’s decision to determine if it was legally sound and supported by the evidence presented at trial. This review is based on the record of the trial court proceedings, which includes transcripts of testimony, exhibits, and other documents that were admitted into evidence. The appellate court does not conduct a new trial or hear new evidence but rather focuses on whether the trial court correctly applied the law to the facts of the case.

In some cases, the appellate court may find that the trial court made errors in applying the law or that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the decision. In these situations, the appellate court may reverse the trial court’s decision and send the case back for further proceedings. Alternatively, the appellate court may affirm the trial court’s decision if it finds that the decision was correct and supported by the evidence.

It is important to note that not all decisions made by a trial court can be appealed. In criminal cases, for example, a defendant may only appeal certain issues, such as the legality of the arrest or the admissibility of evidence. Similarly, in civil cases, only final judgments or orders may be appealed, and certain types of orders, such as interlocutory orders, may not be appealed at all.

Appeals can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring a thorough understanding of legal procedures and precedents. It is, therefore, important that defendants work with an experienced appellate attorney who can help guide them through the process and advocate on their behalf before the appellate court.

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Last Modified: 04/07/2023


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