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Civil Appeals & Writs

Did your lawsuit end in a decision that you did not agree with? While it might seem like you’ve come to the end of the road and you are forced to live with the decision, you have options. You can file an appeal.

Unfortunately, if you win a case, the other side also has the right to appeal. In this situation, you need to fight to preserve your victory throughout the appeals process.

In either case, you need to hire an attorney who specializes in appeals to ensure you get the outcome you want.

In California, the Court System consists of three levels: the Superior Court (or the trial court), the Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. The Courts of Appeal are courts of review. Their only function is to review trial rulings and determine if the law was followed and if the judge made any reversible errors. The Supreme Court takes only about 1% of the cases that petition for review by the Supreme Court and usually only hears cases of statewide significance.

What Cases Can Be Appealed?

The first thing to determine is if you have an appealable order or judgment. As a general rule, you can appeal only from a final judgment or other order that is made appealable by statute– you cannot appeal every judgment or ruling in your case. If you file civil appeals, you must demonstrate why the judgment or order in your case deserves to be reversed, what errors were made, how you were prejudiced, and how the mistakes should be corrected. You must also show that you properly objected in the trial court to preserve your right to appellate review. If you are unsure if your case can be appealed, talk to your lawyer to see if your case qualifies.

Even if you can prove the trial judge or jury made a mistake, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will win on appeal. When the Court of Appeal reviews your case, it begins with the assumption that the trial judge was correct, and that the judgment or order should stand. It’s up to you and your attorney to establish the ruling was legally incorrect, and to convince the court to overturn the decision.

Why You Need a Civil Appeals Attorney

It’s essential to hire an attorney who specializes in appeals to represent you on appeal. Not all appellate attorneys are certified by the State Bar as appellate specialists. It takes years of experience and study to qualify as a certified specialist.

When searching for the right appellate lawyer to take your case, make sure you hire an experienced and qualified attorney to represent you. Having the right person on your case will ensure you have someone who fully understands the appellate process, knows how to frame your argument to the court, is willing to work tirelessly on your behalf, and knows how to maximize your chances for the best possible outcome.

What To Expect During Civil Appeals

During an appeal, your civil appeals attorney does not need to present your entire case all over again. The Court of Appeal is only interested in looking at the trial record and hearing what mistakes you think the trial court made. Your lawyer will explain how these errors impacted the outcome of the case.

When filing civil appeals, the process you will follow depends on the type of case you are appealing:

Limited Jurisdiction (Worth up to $25,000)

An appeal of a limited jurisdiction case will go to the appellate division of the Superior Court. Your attorney will guide you through the process, which is outlined here.

Unlimited Jurisdiction (Worth more than $25,000)

When appealing an unlimited jurisdiction case, the first step is to file a Notice of Appeal with the Superior Court clerk. With some exceptions, you must file this within 60 days of service of notice of the judgment being appealed.

Civil Appeals and Writs

If your judgment or order is not appealable, you may have another option. Your case may be reviewed by a petition for a writ. Like an appeal, this is not a new trial. During the writ petition procedure, the Court of Appeal will review the proceedings to ensure the agency or court followed the law, that you received a fair trial, and that the decision is supported by the evidence and findings. The overwhelming majority of writ petitions are rejected without comment by the Court of Appeal.

Some examples of civil appeals and writs that we’ve presented include:

Simon v. Superior Court

California Court of Appeal, First District

Case no. A151816

Type of case: Appealability and partition.

In this case, a judgment of partition was entered against our client at trial but did not order partition. On appeal, the Court of Appeal determined that the judgment was not appealable, but it would treat the appeal as a petition for writ review. The judgment was overturned, and the case was sent back for further proceeding.

J.B. v. United States of America (2016) 916 F.3d 1161

Federal Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Case no. 16-15999

Type of case: Tax law.

Taxpayers were randomly selected for a national research audit. They challenged the IRS’s use of Publication No. 1 to give reasonable notice to the taxpayers before summoning financial records from employers and other third parties. In this case of first impression, the Ninth Circuit held the taxpayers were not given adequate notice and reversed the District Court decision.

Marriage of Laroia

California Court of Appeal, First District

Case no. A161985

Type of case: Family law; visitation.

In this petition for writ review, the trial court issued a “temporary visitation” order, compelling two young children to fly cross-country to visit their father during the Covid-19 shutdown. The client sought review, contending that the “temporary visitation” order was a move-away order. The Court of Appeal denied review.

Blakely v. Oakmont

California Court of Appeal, First District

Case no. 158511

Type of case: Arbitration.

In this petition for writ review, the trial court granted Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration. The arbitration agreements were part of the Plaintiffs’ contracts of employment, but Plaintiffs were not employed by Defendants at the time of the injury. The Court of Appeal denied writ review.

How a Civil Appeals Attorney at Evans Kingsbury LLP Can Help

Noreen M. Evans, partner at Evans Kingsbury LLP, specializes in appeals and writs in both the California state courts and federal courts. Together, Noreen and Deirdre Kingsbury bring decades of appellate experience to your case with a winning track record that speaks for itself.

Call Evans Kingsbury today for a consultation

Office: 707-596-6090
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