An appeal is the process by which you have a ruling made by a lower court reviewed by a higher court. When a district court (generally the first court in which a case is filed in either state or federal court) judge rules in a manner that is inconsistent with the law, it can be appropriate to appeal that ruling. Many people are under the misunderstanding that appeals involve re-trying a case. An appeal involves the review by a group of appellate court judges of the legal analysis of the lower court’s ruling.
Issues with Appeals
Appellate courts often give great deference to the lower court's findings of fact. It is the application of the law to those facts that is generally the subject matter of an appeal. Issues on appeal are generally limited to the issues that were presented at the trial court. There are strict time limitations to appeal these issues.
There are a number of differences between arguing an appeal and arguing a trial before a district court. There are specific rules of procedure that apply solely to the manner in which evidence is provided to the court, the manner in which pleadings are drafted and submitted, and to the process for oral argument. Unlike a district court case, there is a panel of at least three judges instead a single judge as you would find in the district court. For this reason, some lawyers do not argue appeals at all. Other firms focus their practice almost entirely on appeals.
The attorneys at Whiting & Jardine believe that in most cases it is generally best for the same firm to handle a case both at trial and appellate levels. Otherwise clients can end up paying for a whole new group of attorneys to come up to speed on their case. Our attorneys are dedicated to handling your case from start to finish.