Can there be an appeal of any case decided in a trial court?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Yes, but the standards for overturning the judgment of the lower court or other body are very different, depending on what court or body rendered the judgment and the kind of case.

What is an appeal?
After you receive a judgment, or final decision, from the lower court, you can request the next highest court to review your case. This process is called appealing your case. There are both state and federal appeal courts that review cases originally ruled upon by the lower courts.

What is required to appeal a case?
The primary requirement to appeal any case is that you must be the aggrieved (harmed) party. This means that you must be the party that the judgment negatively affects. An example of an aggrieved party is a defendant from the trial court who is ordered to pay $17,000 to the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s injuries.

The next requirement for an appeal is a mistake of law by the judge. This means that the judge misinterpreted and misapplied the current law causing you to wrongfully lose your case. These mistakes happen in both criminal and civil court. An example of a criminal court error might be the judge throwing out a piece of evidence that should have been permitted in court.

How do I appeal my trial court case?
The law states that appeals are not necessarily a “right” in all cases. So the first step is drafting your appeal and sending it to the appeals court for review. This process is extremely complex, and should be left up to an appeals court attorney. If you were represented in the original case by an attorney, they may already have an appeals attorney they can recommend to you.

It is also worth mentioning that there is a time limit on filing appeals, so you should make the decision to appeal as soon as possible after the judgment is released from the trial court. After filing the appeal, you wait for permission and scheduling of your appeal. The appeal will be argued by your attorney and a decision made by the appeals court.

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