No matter what kind of legal disputes you find yourself navigating, sometimes a court hands down a decision that fails to address your needs or rights. Depending on the nature of the initial decision and the methods the court used to reach it, you may have to absorb the harm and move on, or you may find grounds to appeal the decision to a higher court. It is important to understand that, while appealing decisions is relatively common, it is significantly different from dealing with initial litigation.
In order to succeed in an appeal, you must understand why you might appeal a decision in the first place. Often, because of the prevalence of appealing court decisions in the media, people assume that anyone may appeal anything for just about any reason, in the same way that the American legal system allows individuals to file lawsuits for nearly any reason at all.
While some frivolous lawsuits are regularly tossed out and others prevail, appealing a court decision involves examining and disputing the ways in which a lower court applied the law, rather than taking a second pass on a bench or jury trial that did not go the way you wanted it to go.
In an appeal, you address potential failures or inconsistencies in the original court’s application of the law, but do not re-litigate the initial trial and generally do not present new evidence or witnesses. Unless some relevant evidence emerges that undermines the prior court’s findings, an appeal accepts that the facts of the initial trial remain in place and instead scrutinizes the court’s justifications of its decision. It is also worth noting that appellate courts usually involve multiple judges reviewing an appeal simultaneously, rather than a single judge, or judge and jury, handing down a verdict.
If you believe that you have grounds for an appeal, be sure to consult with an experienced attorney to examine your case and build sound strategies to protect your rights and priorities.
Source: FindLaw, “Appealing a Court Decision or Judgment,” accessed Dec. 15, 2017