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Appeal Definition

An appeal is when a case is taken to a higher court to attempt to reverse a previous court decision. The United States has several appeals courts that apply to different kinds of cases. What is important to remember about the appeals process is that it is far more complex and requires a specific set of legal expertise to have the best possible outcome of the case being appealed.

Why Are Appeals Significant in the United States?

Appeals are significant in the United States because the foundation of our court system is based on protecting justice and having justice that can be obtained through effective criminal procedures. In the history of the United States, courts have made the wrong judgment, and if our country did not have an appeals process, it would be harder to obtain criminal justice.

When trying to understand the court system in the United States, it is first essential to know that we have four divisions of courts, the United States Supreme Court, Federal Courts, State Courts, and Native American Tribal Courts. The United States Supreme Court is the court that oversees all inferior courts. Then, legal cases are divided between federal or state issues and heard in either a federal or state court. Federal courts usually have a trial court, appellate court, and a supreme court before a case will even be considered for the United States Supreme Court. State courts typically have a similar structure of a trial court, appellate court, and supreme court; however, the structure is different in each state.

Appeals are difficult to manage because judges do not like to have overturned cases on their records. Appeals are also a very specialized area of law that is going to require substantial legal expertise and time dedicated to resolving the legal issue. Individuals are advised to consider carefully whether the legal fees are worth appealing the judgments. In some cases, it is worthwhile to get a second judge's appellate opinion.

Are Appeals Court Procedures Different than Trial Court Procedures?

Appeals courts have their own processes since the case has to be presented again and examined by the judge. The presentation of the facts will be slightly shorter than the original case because sometimes, an individual will only want part of the case overturned. What is important to realize is that certain attorneys have expertise in only managing appellate cases and those attorneys will be the best to work with to get the best possible result for the case. 

What If Your Attorney Made a Mistake in Your First Case?

If you believe your attorney made a mistake in your first trial, it is possible to have a new attorney represent your case on appeal. The appeals process is precisely the right moment to review an attorney's performance, and if it can be shown that their conduct led to a fundamental error in your case, then you may be able to have success on appeal. The same argument is true for judges. Sometimes, judges make mistakes, and those mistakes can keep people in prison longer or cause substantial damages to their reputations. If you feel that either of these errors occurred in your case, make sure to interview the next attorney you hire carefully. If you do not have enough money, many specialized legal organizations will enable you to have a pro bono attorney help you with your appeal, particularly if you are appealing a case with constitutional legal issues. Individuals should view the appeals process as a second chance to be sure that justice is served correctly in court cases within the United States.

Appeal Glossary Definition

An appeal occurs when a defendant or plaintiff is unsatisfied with the ruling of a lower court and decides to take the case to the next higher court for a second opinion. Appeals can occur in federal or state courts within the United States. In rare instances, cases may get appealed all the way up to the United States Supreme Court to have a formal review of the legal issue. Appeals can be very costly and time-consuming. Individuals should consider carefully whether an appeal is what they want to pursue.