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What Are the Limits of the Appellate Court’s Jurisdiction?

When you disagree with the outcome of your trial court case, you may consider seeking relief from a higher court through the appellate process. An experienced appellate attorney from Evans Kingsbury, LLP, can evaluate your situation, explain all available options, and guide you through the decision-making process. Contact our offices today by calling (707) 596-6090 and learn more about filing appeals, writs, and other forms of relief that may be options for you.

Understanding Jurisdiction

Every court in California has limits to its jurisdiction, or legal authority to hear and consider cases. Without proper jurisdiction, a court has no legal ability or authority to hear or decide a legal dispute or case.

A court must have both personal jurisdiction and subject-matter jurisdiction to hear a case. Personal jurisdiction means that the court has jurisdiction over the person, business, or entity with whom you have a legal dispute. For example, in most cases, you have personal jurisdiction over a person if you sue them where they live; likewise, you have personal jurisdiction over a company if you sue it where it primarily operates or does business.

Subject-matter jurisdiction refers to the legal issue or dispute your court case concerns. California superior courts, which are trial courts, are courts of general jurisdiction. As a result, they can handle any case unless a law or a provision in the constitution prevents them from having jurisdiction over it.

Other courts have limited jurisdiction, meaning they can only handle certain cases. For instance, small claims courts only handle cases that involve damages of $10,000 or less. Limited civil courts only handle cases that involve damages of $25,000 or less.

Finally, some courts have exclusive jurisdiction. For example, bankruptcy courts have exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. No other courts have jurisdiction to handle those types of cases.

Appellate Courts and Jurisdiction

Different kinds of cases go to different appellate courts when they are appealed. For example, appellate divisions of superior courts handle appeals of limited civil cases or cases involving damages of $25,000 or less. These appellate divisions also handle petitions for extraordinary writs, including writs of mandamus, prohibition, and certiorari, in limited civil cases.

On the other hand, the six California Courts of Appeal handle appeals of unlimited civil cases, such as cases involving damages of more than $25,000, family law cases, probate cases, and temporary restraining orders. These courts have appellate jurisdiction over cases in which the superior courts have original jurisdiction. Courts of Appeals also have original or exclusive jurisdiction over some types of actions, such as petitions for extraordinary writs, including writs of mandamus, prohibition, and certiorari, in unlimited civil cases.

Some statutes may limit the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal in certain specified cases. In addition, the filing of a timely Notice of Appeal is jurisdictional. If a proper Notice of Appeal is not timely filed, the Court of Appeal lacks jurisdiction to hear the appeal.

The California Supreme Court is the highest state court in California. Therefore, it has jurisdiction to review any decisions of the Courts of Appeal.

Appellate Jurisdictional Limits in Deciding Cases

When a Court of Appeal considers an appeal of an unlimited civil case or a family law case, it must make a decision based on the lower’s court’s record as submitted on appeal. The appellate court does not hear testimony, hold another trial, or reconsider factual findings that either a judge or a jury made at the trial level. Instead, the Court of Appeal reviews the trial court’s final judgment or appealable order for prejudicial legal errors. Under the California Constitution, Art. VI, §14, all decisions of a Court of Appeal that determine a cause must be in writing and state the reasons for the decision.

In contrast, the California Supreme Court has the authority to review the decisions of the Courts of Appeal on a discretionary basis. Its responsibility is to decide important legal questions and to maintain statewide uniformity of decisions among the Courts of Appeal.

You Need Our Skills and Experience to Help You on Appeal

The appeals lawyers at Evans Kingsbury, LLP are ready to help you appeal your case. We have the skills and experience necessary to advocate for your interests on appeal successfully. Our lawyers will review the details of your case, discuss your options for relief, and thoroughly explain the appellate process. You can schedule an appointment today to discuss your potential appeal by calling us at (707) 596-6090 or contacting us online.

Call Evans Kingsbury today for a consultation

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