What is the effect of a decision by the court of appeals?

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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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The court of appeals is the second step in legal proceedings. Its job is to change mistakes made by the lower court, not to hear evidence and decide facts like the lower court. Most often, the court of appeals renders the final decision. Some cases are sent back (“remanded”) to the district court for further proceedings.

When can I appeal a case?
Not all cases can be appealed. In fact, the majority of cases end with the trial court’s decision or “final judgment.” While each state has different rules for their appeals courts, there are some general guidelines. First, only the party who is aggrieved by the trial court’s decision can appeal. Second, there has to be a stated controversy or mistake made by the trial court. Finally, cases can only be appealed that actually went to court. If your case was arbitrated, settled or held to be moot, then you cannot appeal.

How do I appeal my case?
Contact an appeals attorney to begin the process. Each state has a specific limitation on when an appeal can be filed, so you should contact the attorney immediately once the judgment is issued.

The appeals court found in my favor, what now?
The appeals court decision is considered the new binding judgment. This means that whatever they decided will become the overall ruling in the case. So, if they overturned the judge’s decision and dismissed the money judgment, then you are no longer responsible to pay it.

The appeals court remanded my case back to the trial court, what does this mean?
When a case is remanded, it is sent back to the trial court with instructions to correct a mistake of fact that the trial court reached. This means that the particular issue in question will be heard again by the judge and the decision reconsidered.

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