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A Guide to Starting a Court Appeal


What is a Court Appeal?

A court appeal is a re-evaluation of a previous decision rendered by a lower court system. When a verdict (decision rendered by a judge or jury of a trial) is regarded as unfavorable, the United States Constitution states that an individual has the ability to appeal the decision, in hopes of ultimately overturning the decision.

A court appeal does not re-evaluate the evidence or testimonials that were available in the previous court matter, but instead inspects the process revolving around the decision; if an error was made in regards to the judicial process, a court appeal will be awarded to the defendant. The court appeal will effectively eliminate the case and any punishments attached to the previous charge.

In the majority of jurisdictions in the United States, there is a regional court of appeal as well as a national appeal system. The classification system of the court appeal is critical understanding, for many jurisdictions and the general matters which revolve around the case will yield a distinct process for the court appeal. For example, in the United States of America, a common jurisdiction will have a state court of appeals, which is responsible for reviewing cases made in the state’s lower court system.

A federal appeal court, in contrast, will handle cases heard in the lower federal court systems. The federal courts act as intermediaries between trial courts and the highest judicial systems in the land. The court of appeal thus must decide the availability of the appeal on the merits of the request; as a result of this qualification process, the highest court in the system may decline to review the case.

How to initiate a Court Appeal:

When a trial decision is regarded as unfavorable, you possess the right to initiate a court appeal that is effectively overheard by a higher court system. The higher court, generally referred to as the appellate court, will review the process surrounding your previous tribunal or trial, to evaluate whether an error was made when rendering your particular decision. If the appellate court finds an error in the judicial process, the previous decision may be reversed.

The lawyers for the parties present in the appeal court will typically submit written briefs to the presiding court and may further their arguments via oral communication. In the United States, there are a number of appellate courts, including various state and federal appeal courts; the rules for each court appeal will thus vary by the underlying court system.

As a result of the different rules surrounding a court appeal, to initiate the process, you must first speak to someone in the court clerk’s office to determine which judicial system you should file your court appeal.

Once you have decided which court will overhear your court appeal, you must review the applicable rules and time frame of the respective court system in which you are filing your court appeal. These rules will also document and elucidate on how to start the appeal, the coordinating fees and the necessary documents to initiate your court appeal.

Once this information has been reviewed, you must file the required documents (Notice of Appeal) and associated fees with the respective court of appeal. When this information is submitted, the respective appellate court will record and subsequently review the documents, including those documents evaluated in the original trial case.

The next step of a court appeal requires you to submit your written briefs, which will contain all of your legal arguments. Each appellate court contains detailed rules regarding briefs, including word limitations, margin requirements and legal citation formats. If given the opportunity, you must present your arguments in an oral fashion. Upon the delivery of this information, the court appeal will be reviewed--by the respective appellate court--to subsequently deliver a written decision.

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