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Appellate Process

An appeal is a formal request made to higher court to review the action, procedure, or decision of a lower court, administrative agency, or any other body.  An appeal is made by the party who loses, or did not get all the relief he/she or it sought.  

The party intending to appeal must file a notice of appeal with the court.   A notice of appeal is a formal written notice showing a party’s intention to appeal a judgment order.  The notice with the required details must be filed with the clerk of the trial court and served on the other parties.  There is specific time limit for appealing decisions, and the notice must be filed within the allowed time.  However, extension in time may be granted where the appellant claims that the notice of appeal should have reached the clerk of the trial court by the deadline for appealing through mail.   Appealing time from an interlocutory and final order differ from each other. 

Generally, the court of appeals makes its decision based on the record of the case established by the trial court or agency.  The court of appeals also may review the factual findings of the trial court or agency but may overturn a decision on factual grounds only if the decision is clearly erroneous.

Usually, the appellate court decides cases based on the record of the case established by the trial court or agency.  The appellant and the appellee are bound to base their arguments on the proceeding and evidence as presented in the lower courts.  The written arguments presented by either party are called briefs.  In order to gain a favorable judgment the appellant must prove that the lower court decision was erroneous.   On the other hand, the appellee must show why the trial court decision was correct.  Some cases are decided based on the briefs alone but many cases are selected for an oral argument before the appellate court. 

A litigant, who loses in a federal court of appeals, or in the highest court of a state, may file a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the case.  Such a petition is called a “writ of certiorari.”  However, the Supreme Court entertains a certiorari: only when it involves an unusually important legal principle; or when two or more federal appellate courts have interpreted a law differently; or under special circumstances where the Supreme Court is required by law to hear an appeal.

The prevailing party in a suit has a right to recover costs on appeal.  The right to recover costs may be provided under statute or court rule.

Inside Appellate Process