The right to an appeal is an important part of our legal system. Appeals take place when a party is dissatisfied with a trial court’s decision, and a higher court (the “appellate court”) that consists of a panel of three judges, reviews the decision of the lower court. An appellate court examines whether a legal error occurred during a trial or hearing, and whether that error prejudiced the party in a material way. Most appeals do not involve a court appearance, like that which occurs at the trial level; rather, they are done primarily in the form of researching and writing a brief that analyzes the law and applies it to the facts of your argument. This brief is submitted to the judicial panel, and the opposing party then answers and attempts to refute the argument made. A party can appeal a final decision and also, upon certain conditions, an interlocutory order that occurs prior to the final outcome of a case.
An important factor to realize when thinking about appealing a trial court’s ruling is that an unfavorable outcome does not automatically equate to a winning argument on appeal. A successful appeal involves a legal argument that demonstrates not just a bad outcome for a party, but an outcome that is contrary to the law. When thinking about an appeal, it is imperative to seek advice in a prompt fashion, as the Rules of Appellate Procedure only allow thirty days to file an appeal after a ruling. If the appeal is not timely filed, you will lose your right to file. If you are thinking about appealing a decision at the trial court level, The Women’s Law Group can assist you with any questions you may have.