The Appeals Process: Everything that You Should Know

The Appeals Process: Everything that You Should Know

At times, decisions made by federal or state trial courts may be reviewed by appeal courts especially when the parties involved are dissatisfied with the decisions. The role of an appeal court is to review everything that happened during the proceedings of the lower court in order to establish whether there were any errors. More often than less, decisions made by an appeals court are legally binding.

Trials Vis a Vis Appeals

Trial and appeals processes have a few similarities. Nonetheless, they differ totally. In trial cases, parties involved present their cases, call witnesses to present their testimonies, and also present evidence including surveys, blueprints, and photographs. The jury uses such evidence and testimonies to establish whether the case holds water or not. During a trial case, the judge controls all courtroom activities besides making all legal decisions that pertain to the case.

Appeal cases typically entail reviewing the application of the law by trial courts. No jury is involved. In addition, lawyers do not present any form of evidence or witnesses. The court only accepts facts that were brought to light during the trial. However, this is not the case if a fact is against the validity of the evidence presented before the appellate judge.

Trials and appeals also differ when it comes to the judges involved. Only one judge presides over trial cases whereas an appeal case is heard and determined by several judges. The number of judges who will hear and determine an appeal case varies according to state. Appeals are sometimes determined by panels, which typically comprise three judges. Supreme courts at federal and state level have between five and nine judges who are sometimes known as justices.

What are Appellate Briefs?

Written appellate briefs are the main method of persuasion used during appeal cases. These briefs are usually filed by each party’s legal counsel. The losing party uses appellate briefs to convince the appellate judges that the trial court applied the law incorrectly. On the other hand, the winning party’s brief convinces the court that the trial court’s application of the law was correct and fair.

Both parties are required to support their stands while referring to applicable case statutes and laws. This clearly shows that appeals take a more scholarly approach than trials. If an error in the application of the law at the trial stage is established, the initial ruling will be reversed. If no error in the application of the law is established, the trial court ruling will be upheld.

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