What Is Appellate Law?

Civil and criminal cases don’t always end with the final verdict. In some cases, the court may revisit the case to determine whether it should be appealed. This is done through the appellate court process.

Definition of Appellate Law

Appellate law refers to a field of legal practice that focuses on appeals. Most appeals cases are decided in a district court and are reviewed in a higher court or the Court of Appeals.

Unlike district courts, appellate courts do not have juries; instead, the cases are heard by an appellate judge or a panel of judges depending on the type of case. It’s also important to note that these courts cant always reverse a verdict even if you win. Appellate judges often look to see if the original ruling was an error and needs to be reopened.

Because appeals courts have a more streamlined process, you cannot introduce new evidence to help with the case. The judge’s job is to reevaluate the verdict, not the case itself. If the case is reopened and goes to criminal or civil court again, you may introduce new evidence.

Types of Appellate Court

There are several different types of appellate courts where a case can be heard:

  • Civil Court: These cases include negligence claims, malpractice suits, contract disputes, and business law cases. Essentially, civil court handles cases involving individuals or businesses as well as a wide variety of legal topics.
  • Family Court: Sometimes, a divorce or family case may go through the process of appeals. Keep in mind that these cases are not heard in front of a jury but rather, the final decision is left to the judge.
  • Criminal Court: If a criminal case was resolved, but there are questions about integrity or bias, the case may go to an appellate court. Other people may want to appeal their case because they feel the original verdict was unfair or cruel.
  • Administrative Agencies: Some of the most common appellate court cases involve administrative appeals like Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

Grounds for an Appeal

Because appellate courts handle such a wide variety of cases, the grounds for an appeal depend on the type of case and the benefits of pursuing an appeal. For example, in criminal cases, you can’t appeal the case because you felt the verdict was unfair. There must be evidence to suggest discrimination, unethical investigations, evidence/witness tampering, etc., that would affect the verdict.

It also may not be in your best interest to pursue an appeal. If you have recently been accused of a crime or gone through family or administrative court, it may be tempting to depend on the chance for a “redo.” However, appeals are NOT do-overs – they are evaluations to determine whether a case should be reopened or if the original verdict should stand.

The best thing you can do to avoid a harsh or unjust verdict is to consult a lawyer. Experienced attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the legal system and can help you pursue a verdict that is in your favor.

If you choose to pursue an appeal, only do so with the help of an attorney. NEVER attempt to file an appeal without legal guidance. While appellate courts operate differently, they are still a part of the court system and should be treated with the respect they deserve.

Are you wondering if an appeal is right for you? Contact White Law PLLC.