Understanding the Appeals Process
In many legal proceedings, it is common for one of the parties involved to feel that the court may have committed an error that led to a ruling that was unfair to that party. Depending on the nature of that error, and the potential consequences of allowing the original ruling to stand, it may be necessary to file an appeal of that ruling with an appellate court.
How Do You Start an Appeal?
The appeal process begins with a notice of appeal that is filed with the court that heard the case in question. Either party can file an appeal, and they have 30 days to do so. This notice will list the specific reasons supporting the belief that the court committed some error of procedure or in some interpretation of the law and that those alleged errors had a material effect on the outcome of the case.
Who Hears the Appeals?
In general, appeals involving matters of state law are heard by a state court of appeals and those cases involving federal law are heard by a division of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Once an appeal is filed, the attorney filing the appeal will appear before the court to argue his or her position. If any other parties are involved in the appeal, those parties will also be given the opportunity to present their arguments as well.
Unlike a trial, there is no new evidence presented at an appeal. Instead, the lawyers are arguing based on the error they felt was committed by the court in the previous trial. Because of this distinction, clients will sometimes change lawyers if their defense or prosecution lawyer does not specialize in appeals.
Is There a Time Constraint on Filing an Appeal?
Most states require that an appeal is filed after a case has been decided, although there are exceptions to this requirement that are unique to each state and the type of case itself. It is also possible that the court may issue a stay pending appeal (postponement or deferment) of its original ruling until the appeal is ruled upon by the appellate court.
Where Can I Find More Information?
There are always exceptions to generalizations such as those just mentioned. Tad Nelson & Associates, a firm that has appeals lawyers based in Texas recommends you find a lawyer who is familiar with a given state’s practice and procedure governing its appeals process. Above all, it is important to remember that just because an appeal is filed is no guarantee that an appeal will be granted.
In summary, an appeal is a motion asking that a court’s ruling in a case be reviewed by another court that has the authority to issue a ruling on the merits of the appeal. If the appeal is granted, the court may order that the initial ruling be set aside and the case is sent back to the original court for modification its ruling or, if necessary, for retrial.