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What is an Appeal?

A party may choose to appeal the verdict to a higher court if they lose their case at trial. The court will examine the evidence and defenses offered in support of your legal claim during an appeal to decide if the lower court’s decision was appropriate.

If you appeal your case, no new evidence is allowed; in most circumstances, you must use the same evidence that was presented in the lower court.

How does a court of appeals determine whether to overturn a case?

Appeals will often only overturn a lower court’s decision if it was rendered in error by the law or a crucial fact was misinterpreted.

In appeals, the Court of Appeals applies a number of “standards of review.” The degree of deference the higher court will accord the lower court’s ruling depends on this threshold. Depending on the circumstances of the case and the individual issue you are appealing, these requirements change. They consist of:

  • Abuse of Discretion: It is difficult to surpass this standard. It basically states that the lower court has a lot of latitude in its decision-making regarding a particular matter and that the Court of Appeals will only overturn the lower court’s decision if there is a glaring error.
  • Clear Abuse of Discretion: It is even harder to surpass this criterion. There must have been a very big, obvious mistake made. This criterion resembles another norm that is frequently referred to as “obviously erroneous” in many ways.
  • “De Novo”: This Latin phrase means “from the new.” In situations containing this standard, the Court of Appeals will pay little heed to the ruling of the lower court and will reexamine the facts and the law. But bear in mind that the Court of Appeals conducts this assessment using the details and evidence presented to the lower court during the trial.
  • Any Evidence: This standard is applicable to factual conclusions. It accords the lower court a significant deal of deference, and the Court of Appeals will uphold the decision of the trial court if there is “any evidence” to support it.

Although there are other evaluation criteria, these are the most typical. An appeals court will frequently defer to the lower court’s findings of fact because it was the only one who observed witnesses and the presentation of the evidence. The Court of Appeals, however, will not accord the lower court the same deference with regard to legal judgments.

To put it another way, certain appeals are very challenging to succeed while others have a better chance—and it always depends at least in part on what you think the lower court did incorrectly and what evidence you or your attorney have for that. 

Contact an Attorney for Legal Help

Speak with a lawyer who has experience appealing cases if you want to know whether it’s a good idea to appeal a court ruling.

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