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Who Can Appeal a Court Decision, and Why?

You worked hard with your attorney to put together what you thought was a winning case, only to have the court’s decision go against you. What can you do? Do you have to accept the ruling, or is there another option?

The answer is there might be another option. If your case qualifies, you can appeal a court decision.

Learn what is required to appeal a court decision, and why you need a qualified appellate lawyer.

What Is an Appeal?

In its most basic definition, an appeal is when you ask a higher court to review a lower court’s decision. You are asking the appellate court to review the trial court’s decision to determine if an error was made. When you do this, you are not simply re-arguing your case to the appeals court and you cannot present new evidence.

In your opening brief on appeal, you must summarize the evidence presented to the trial court and explain in detail the errors of law you believe were made by the trial court, how you were prejudiced, and why the outcome should have been different. The respondent’s attorney will file a brief arguing why the judgment shouldn’t be overturned, and you have the opportunity to file a reply brief. Usually, after all the briefs are filed, the Court of Appeal will hear oral argument from both sides. The Court of Appeal presumes the trial court’s decision is correct and will indulge in all reasonable inferences to uphold the trial court.

In addition, many trial court orders and judgments continue to be enforceable even though an appeal of a court decision has been filed, unless execution is stayed or bond is posted.

When Can You Appeal a Court Decision?

Appealability is determined by statute. Unfortunately, not all cases – and not all decisions – can be appealed. Your lawyer will help you determine if you have an appealable order or judgment. Generally, a Notice of Appeal must be filed within 60 days of service of notice of the order or judgment and in no event later than 180 days from the date the order or judgment was entered by the trial court. If a Notice of Appeal is untimely filed, the Court of Appeal lacks jurisdiction to proceed.

Who Can File an Appeal of a Court Decision?

Who can appeal a court decision largely depends on the type of case. In civil cases, the losing party can file an appeal. If the judgment was made against multiple parties in the civil case, any one of the losing parties can file an appeal.

When to Petition for a Writ

If your order is not eligible for an appeal, you may be able to petition for a writ. This is a quicker and shorter process than an appeal, but the Court of Appeal has discretion to consider the writ petition or to reject it without consideration. Most writ petitions are denied immediately. If the Court of Appeal agrees to consider your writ petition, the Court of Appeal will review the proceedings to make sure the trial court followed the law, that you received a fair trial, or that the final decision was supported by the findings.

In a writ application, the writ is sought against the trial court. The opposing party is the real party in interest.

How an Appellate Attorney Can Help

Initially, an appellate lawyer can help you determine whether your order or judgment is even appealable and, if so, when to file it to meet the statutory deadline. An appellate lawyer can also determine the legal standard under which the Court of Appeal will review the case, such as, an abuse of discretion or review of an error of law. Your lawyer can also help you figure out whether you must post bond to prevent execution of the order or judgment or seek a stay of execution.

To ensure you present the strongest possible case, hire an attorney who specializes in appeals and is certified as an appellate specialist.

Attorneys Noreen Evans and Deirdre Kingsbury understand the complexities of appellate law and how to write a persuasive appellate brief and present oral argument. 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.

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