As a party to a lawsuit, you have already experienced the first level of the California judicial system. If your case was not resolved to your satisfaction, it may be eligible for review through the California appeals process.
The Three-Tiered California Court System
California uses a three-tiered court system. The trial court is known as the Superior Court, the next level is the Court of Appeal, and the highest court in the State is the Supreme Court. Each court performs different tasks and not every case can be brought in every court.
The trial court receives evidence and witness testimony and then applies the applicable laws to rule on a dispute. Either the trial judge or a jury may render the judgment at the trial level. Once that judgment is filed, the case may, or may not, be ripe for an appeal.
Under the California appeals process, the appellate court does not receive evidence, nor hear witness testimony. The appellate court is limited to a review of the trial records to determine if any legal mistakes were made during the trial which would change the outcome.
It is important to know that the appellate court is not a second opportunity to make your case. The appellate court reviews only errors of law. And, the specific issues raised in the appellate court must have also been raised in the trial court.
You will not have a new trial in the appellate court. No new evidence can be presented to the court, and the presumption is always against the appellant bringing the appeal and in favor of the trial court’s judgment.
Can My Case Be Appealed?
With few exceptions, only final trial court judgments that resolve all of the issues between the trial litigants are eligible for the California appeals process. There are some exceptions, however, particularly in family law cases. We can explain your particular appeal rights.
In some cases, the initial determination of whether a judgment or order is appealable is itself a complex legal issue.
Do I Have a Certain Time Limit to file a Notice of Appeal?
Yes. Depending on the type of case, you have a specific amount of time to file a Notice of Appeal with the Court of Appeal in the District which has jurisdiction over your case. As a general rule, you must file a Notice of Appeal within 60 days after service of Notice of Entry of Judgment or service on you of a file-stamped copy of the judgment, OR within 180 days of the entry of Judgment, whichever comes first. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, mostly involving post-trial motions and other complicated trial strategies.
If you miss the deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal, you cannot bring your appeal and your appeal will be dismissed if you try. It’s very important that you understand your filing deadlines and don’t miss them!
The complex appellate system includes specific rules and requirements mastered by only a few legal specialists statewide. Attorney Noreen Evans is a Certified Appellate Specialist who can help you determine if your case is eligible for appeal, and what your chances are for success.
If you are considering an appeal, contact our office to set up a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your appeal. Call us at (707) 596-6090 to schedule an appointment or complete our easy contact form today.