Reasons to Appeal Your Court Decision

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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In an ideal world, a trial decides justice equitably and fairly in accordance with the law. In most cases, this is exactly what happens, but occasionally, a judge for whatever reason, makes a serious mistake that results in the wrong side winning the case. Appeals are a long process, that can draw out a case by as much as a six months to year from the time of the judgment’s filing to the actual argument date. Keeping this in mind, it is important to consider whether your reasons for appealing are truly valid and compelling or whether it is out of a desire to win.

The first compelling reason that always justifies an appeal is a mistake with the gathering, use or acceptance of critical evidence. According to the law, all evidence must be gathered in an ethical and Constitutional manner. For civil cases, this means that documents, vehicles, medical records and buildings can only be evaluated through an approved motion for discovery. If this motion was not obtained, or the area where the evidence was uncovered was not in the discovery motion, then it must be thrown out.

Secondly, if the judge gives the jury the wrong instructions and the jury brings back a verdict based on those wrong instructions, then it is essential that you appeal. Jury instructions given by the judge must always be accurate interpretations of the law that are approved and accepted by the parties in the case. This type of mistake will almost always guarantee a reversal of the case and a remand to the trial court.

Thirdly, if the verdict awarded is inequitably large and impossible for you as the defendant to pay, then you should appeal. This error is especially common in jury trials where the jurors get emotionally carried away and award large sums of money as punishment to the defendant. If this happens, you can file a motion for relief of judgment and appeal the case. While this will not reverse the court’s findings, it will reduce the amount of money owed to a realistic and legally equitable amount.

Finally, the most compelling reason to appeal a case is that an appellate attorney urges you to appeal. If something just did not sit right with the case, the best way to determine if you should appeal is to consult with an appellate attorney. Appellate attorneys specialize in evaluating, drafting and arguing appeal cases and can tell you honestly whether you should appeal and your chances of the case being reversed. As with anything in the law, if a lawyer tells you that it is worth pursuing, take their advice and pursue the appeal.

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