What are some factors that influence a decision to appeal?

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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 16, 2021

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The objective of the appeal should be an important factor in deciding on an appeal. Is your goal to seek a new trial? Is it to reduce the amount of damages? Is it to buy time? Is it to establish a new legal principle? Or, are you seeking leverage for some compromise or settlement arrangement? As it is quite common for the winning party to discount slightly a judgment or to agree not to collect court costs in order to persuade the loser not to appeal, you may be able to benefit should you negotiate not to appeal.

If you are convicted in a criminal case and are going to be spending years in jail you may decide to appeal as “what is there to lose”? On the other hand suppose yours is a civil case involving an issue of recurring importance to your business (such as the size of type you used in your contracts). Suppose also that you believe the judge’s instructions to the jury were wrong and as a result you lost, but damages were small, and there was no published decision. If you appeal you risk having an appellate court find what may be used against you in other cases and/or generate adverse publicity.

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