The appeals process is an important part of the overall legal system and the civil litigation process because it provides the parties with options and redress if they do not agree with the outcome of a decision made by the court. State and federal court decisions are generally subject to review by appeals courts, which can provide important relief for litigants.
Once a final judgment has been entered either by a judge or a jury, an appeals court can be asked to review the case for errors in the law, but the appellate court does not review the findings of fact by the lower court. They may affirm the decision of the lower court or reverse it. The appeals process is different than the trial process. Trials may involve juries, or a judge only in circumstances of a bench trial. In the case of an appeal, it is only a judge, or sometimes a panel of judges, reviewing the appeal.
During the civil litigation appeals process the representatives for the parties will submit appellate briefs for the appeals court to review, which outline the reasons for the appeal or argue that the lower court’s decision should not be disturbed. The appeals court will also review the record of the trial and the lower court’s decision. Civil litigation can be a complex and technical process, so knowing what to expect and how to navigate it can be useful.
It is valuable to understand how the trial process works, but also how the appeals process works. Parties to civil litigation should understand their right to appeal if they have encountered an outcome they believe is an erroneous decision by the lower court.