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An order, judgment or decree which is brought for review can be reversed by the Supreme Court or any other court of appellate jurisdiction.[i] If the trial court reached the right result for the wrong reason, the court cannot reverse the same on that ground.[ii] Therefore, if there is single alternative ground that supports the decision of the trial court, then the case will not be reversed on appeal.

Similarly, an appellate court will not reverse a ruling on the admissibility of evidence unless prejudice is proved.[iii] If a general verdict is depended upon a theory of liability without adequate evidentiary support, then it cannot be reversed.[iv]

Usually, a judgment is reversed entirely and remands the cause for the entry of a new judgment.  At the same time, the court has the power to affirm a judgment partly and reverse the same partly.  Therefore, if there is an error in some part of the judgment, the court has the power to set aside only that particular part.[v]

It was observed in Caldwell v. Haynes, 136 N.J. 422 (N.J. 1994), that while reviewing a trial court’s ruling on a motion for a new trial, an appellate court must not reverse a trial court unless it clearly appears that there was a miscarriage of justice under the law.  While a reversal invalidates the prior judgment, it extends only to those issues which the appellate court decided and it does not affect collateral matters that are not before the court.[vi]

If separate portions of a judgment apply to different parties to the same action, and if the party to whom a certain portion of the judgment applies fails to appeal, the judgment remains in effect as to that party even if other portions of the judgment are reversed on appeal.  Modification or reversal of the portion of the judgment from which the appeal is taken has no effect upon the other portions.[vii]

In the absence of an error, an appellate court cannot reverse a trial court’s judgment.  A judgment will be reversed only if the entire record shows that it is clearly erroneous.  Thus, a judgment may be reversed by appellate courts:

  • For errors appearing on the record;
  • If the trial judge has applied an erroneous legal standard, or failed to apply it to the facts at issue;
  • Exceeded its jurisdictional bounds or lacks personal jurisdiction

A judgment reversed and remanded stands as if no trial was held.  It means the rights of the parties’ remains unaffected by any previous determination held.  This is also applicable in the case of criminal appeals.  If a judgment is reversed without remanding the case, it cannot be reinstated in the court which entered the judgment from which the appeal was taken.  In other words, following a reversal without remand, the trial court is not revested with jurisdiction over the case.[viii]

[i] 28 USCS § 2106

[ii] KINCAID v. DAVIS, 2006 Mich. App. LEXIS 2958 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct. 10, 2006)

[iii] Parr v. Gaines, 309 S.C. 477 (S.C. Ct. App. 1992)

[iv] Walls v. State, 926 So. 2d 1156 (Fla. 2006)

[v] Floyd v. First Union Nat’l Bank, 203 Ga. App. 788 (Ga. Ct. App. 1992)

[vi] D’Aston v. Aston, 844 P.2d 345 (Utah Ct. App. 1992)

[vii] Satchmed Plaza Owners Assn. v. UWMC Hospital Corp., 167 Cal. App. 4th 1034 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2008)

[viii] Dalan/Jupiter, Inc. v. Draper & Kramer, Inc., 372 Ill. App. 3d 362 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2007)

Inside Reversal