An appeal may be necessary if you went to court to pursue a lawsuit only to have the judge rule against you. If the verdict doesn’t go in your favor, you still have options. You could accept the decision and move on. However, if you feel that an error occurred in the trial court’s determination, you can file an appeal.
On appeal, you will argue to the appellate court that mistakes were made during the proceedings and how you were prejudiced by the trial court’s errors.
However, filing an appeal does not necessarily mean that enforcement of the judgment will be paused until a decision is made in the appellate court.
Will an Appeal Stay the Trial Court Judgment?
When you file an appeal, it does not override the trial court’s order or judgment. The order or judgment remains enforceable until it is overturned. In addition, filing a Notice of Appeal will not always automatically stay the enforcement of the order you are appealing. In other words, you may be required to comply with the trial court’s order or judgment even while the appeal is pending.
Some judgments or orders may be automatically stayed by operation of law, pending appeal. Most judgments, including judgments for the payment of money, are not automatically stayed and can be enforced even after a Notice of Appeal is filed. Where enforcement is not automatically stayed, the appellant may ask the trial court to order enforcement stayed pending appeal. The trial court may require the appellant to post a bond. If the trial court refuses to stay its own order, the Court of Appeal may order a stay of enforcement, including posting a bond. The purpose of a stay is to protect the status quo so that the Court of Appeal may provide meaningful relief.
This process can be complicated, so it’s essential to hire an appellate attorney to guide you through the steps and the expectations. Your attorney will advise you whether to challenge the trial court’s decision and when you can seek a stay of enforcement of the judgment or order.
When Can You Appeal a Decision?
Unfortunately, not every trial court decision can be appealed. Unless specifically authorized by statute, only final judgments are appealable. Certain other interim orders, such as an award of sanctions or a judgment ordering partition of real property, are made appealable by Code of Civil Procedure section 904.1.
To learn if the order or judgment in your case is appealable, work with an appellate attorney to review your case and look at your options.
Steps To a Successful Appeal
First, you need to timely file the Notice of Appeal. The deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal is jurisdictional, meaning that if your Notice is not timely, the Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to hear your case.
After you file for an appeal, it’s time to start compiling the record from the trial court. Your attorney will analyze the law as applied to the exhibits, testimony, and other documents presented during the trial proceeding to determine where an error occurred. New evidence cannot be submitted to the appellate court. If it was not in the record in the trial court, the appellate court will not consider it.
Second, know the relevant standard of review on appeal. The Court of Appeal reviews the trial court decision using various standards: was there an error of law which is reviewed de novo (meaning it is reviewed without deference to the trial court); did the trial court abuse its discretion; or, did substantial evidence support the trial court’s decision? When reviewing the case using the abuse of discretion test and the substantial evidence test, the appellate court presumes the trial court’s decision was correct and provides great deference to the trial court when deciding the appeal.
Lastly, your attorney will write an appellate brief and then argue your case in the appellate court. In your brief, you will argue that the trial decision should be reversed. The opposing party has a chance to file his or her brief in opposition. Then you may reply to the opposing party’s brief. After all the briefs are filed, the appellate court will hold oral argument on the matter and then issue an opinion.
Attorneys Noreen Evans and Deirdre Kingsbury understand the complexities of appellate law and how to write and present a persuasive appellate brief. At Evans Kingsbury LLP we are appellate lawyers with decades of experience who can take your case to the next level. Call us today at (707) 596-6090 or fill out our easy contact form to discuss your case.