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Practice Definitions  | Appellate Law

Appellate Law

Appellate Law image
After a decision is rendered in a civil or criminal law trial by a trial judge or jury, the party who loses has the right to have the decision reviewed by a higher court. Appellate Law (also known as appeals process or appellate procedure) consists of the rules and practices by which higher courts review lower court judgments.

Appellate law is different than other forms of litigation in the respect that is no discovery, and the appellate record is limited to what was already presented to the trial court. An appeal is presented to a multi-judge appellate panel and is decided almost entirely on the written briefs, including those from amici curiae (Friend of the Court) groups.

Appellate law deals mainly with what judgments are appealable, how appeals are brought before the court, what will be required for a reversal of the lower court (e.g., a showing of "abuse of discretion," "clear error," etc.), and what procedures each party must follow. Appellate law also involves such issues as posting and challenging appellate bonds, writs of habeas corpus (Habeas Corpus Act), writs of execution, writs of restitution, writs of quo warranto, writs of procedendo, writs of supersedas, writs of prohibition, writs of mandate, writs of administrative mandamus, writs of certiorari, and other forms of discretionary relief, pursuit of further relief on remand, post-verdict motions, and other issues.

What is an appealable judgment?

There are a lot of decisions made during the course of the trial. For example, if the judge denies a motion to dismiss, the proceedings will continue and the order denying the motion is considered an interim (interlocutory) order. Because these are not final judgments, they are not appealable. The final decision (also known as a final disposition, final judgment, or final order) concludes the case as far as that court is concerned. Appealable judgments are commonly limited to the lower court's final decision. But, there are some exceptions including: instances of plain or fundamental error by the trial court, questions of subject-matter jurisdiction of the trial court, or constitutional questions.

What is an appeal?

An appeal is the process by which the higher court reviews the decision of the lower trial court. The right to appeal an adverse legal decision is granted by the United States Constitution and in state constitutions. The appeals system provides a check on the power of judges and juries, granting the higher court the authority to overturn what it considers erroenous or unconstitutional judgments or judgments it otherwise deems inappropriate. Anyone who has had an adverse court decision made against him or her is the party with the right to appeal. This applies to government agencies, corporations and other business entities, as well. The appealing party is called the appellant. The opposing party that agrees with the outcome of the trial and argues during the appeal that the judge's or jury's decision should be left alone is the appellee.
Should I hire a lawyer?
Appellate practices vary from state to state and from federal district to federal district, so it is best to consult with a qualified appellate law attorney who is well-versed in the state of Oregon or federal district in which your case was tried. Use the State Lawyers Directory to find a qualified lawyer for your needs.
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