What does it mean when the other party is appealing a court decision?

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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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So, your case is over and you won, you received your compensation, and know that you were right. Later, you get the notice in the mail that the other side is appealing the verdict and you are listed as the defendant. Getting the notice of appeal can be somewhat daunting after having finally finished a marathon litigation case. Thankfully, the majority of cases in the appeals court are simply reviewed and upheld, ending the legal struggle and guaranteeing payment.

A notice of appeal means that the other side feels there were errors made during the trial that justify consideration from the court and a chance at a mistrial. The reason that you are the defendant instead of the plaintiff on this case is because the roles are always reversed during the appeals process. However, the new names assigned to roles is appellant and respondent. The appellant is the one filing the appeal and the respondent is the one arguing against the appeal.

The first step when you receive that notice of appeal in the mail is to contact your trial attorney and request a recommendation for an appellate defense attorney. You will need to familiarize the attorney with your case. Make sure that you bring your notice of appeal and a copy of the appellant’s motion for appeal, as this will contain the other side’s arguments and reasons for the appeal. Your appellate attorney cannot use any new information for the appeal, so he must rely on the court transcript and evidence presented at the trial.

Your appellant attorney will then draft a response to the motion and file it with the appellate court. It is vital that the drafting be handled by an attorney and not yourself because the appeals process requires a critical eye and ability to clearly argue what most would consider insignificant points from a long proceeding.

In most cases, the appeal will end with the judges reviewing the arguments of both parties. If this is the case, your attorney will receive a notice stating that the judgment was upheld. If not, the attorney must meet with the appellant’s attorney and schedule a time for arguments with the appeals court. An argument before the appeals court does not mean you’ve lost your case, but rather that the justices have some questions of clarification regarding the arguments being presented in the appeal. During the appeal arguments, there are no witnesses called and no jury to present your case to. Instead, the two attorneys simply each have 15 minutes in which to argue their case and answer any questions asked by the appeal justices.

After the hearing, the justices will make a decision and draft their decision for the record. The drafted decision is sent to both parties as well as the original judge from the case.

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