Missouri’s Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the state. The Court of Appeals handles all appeals that come from the Circuit Courts. This court handles all appeals except those that are under the Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction such as the “challenges to the validity of a United States statute or treaty, the validity of a state constitutional provision or statute, cases requiring construction of revenue laws, the title to state office, and cases where the death penalty is imposed.”
The losing party of a trial set in Circuit Court has the right to an appeal. In this case, three judges from the Court of Appeals will review the original case, all documentation, files, court transcripts, oral arguments and briefs prepared by each side to determine if any errors were made when applying the law. Only two of the three judges need to agree for their decision to be binding. If the party is still dissatisfied, they can appeal their case to the Supreme Court, but less than 10% of all cases requested for review make it to that level. In most cases, the Court of Appeals decision is final.
Briefs and oral arguments are open to the general public. Briefs are a summary of the original case and arguments as to where the law was violated. Oral arguments give each side an opportunity to present their case in person to the panel of judges. These proceedings are open to the public, and anyone may attend.
All Court of Appeals decisions called “opinions” are posted on the Missouri Justice Branch of Government website and are openly available to the public.
The Missouri Court of Appeals has 32 judges who are selected by the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan. Judges must retire at age 70.