How to Appeal a Court Judgment

By Nico Riley

When a court judgment rules against you, you may be able to file for an appeal. An appeal is the process of seeking a higher court's review of a lower court's decision in hopes of getting the decision reversed. Only a defendant can file for an appeal. In most cases, the defendant must be able to show that the trial court didn’t act correctly in regards to the law or show that there was some violation of the defendant’s rights.

How to Appeal a Court Judgment

Request a copy of the court records from your case. These records include the court transcript and your case file. You and your attorney should review these transcripts in search of any mistakes such as evidence that should or shouldn’t have been allowed, or decisions and procedures that took place during the trial which violated your constitutional or civil rights. You must transfer the trial court records to the appellate court.

File a notice of appeal within the specific time period required. The time periods may vary from state to state, and depending on whether it is a civil or federal case. You usually have between 30 and 90 days from the date the court entered a judgment against you to file your appeal. A notice of appeal is a written statement that outlines the basis for your appeal.

Make sure you pay any fees associated with your appeal. Failure to pay any fees can result in having your case dismissed by the appellate court. There is usually a time limit given to pay the fees which again may vary depending on state and type of case.

Have your attorney file a brief. A brief is a written argument presenting the defendant's legal arguments which can include violation of rights, tainted evidence, or improper jury instruction. You must also provide precedents that support your arguments for your appeal. Although the defendant is filing for the appeal, the prosecution must also submit briefs to the appellate court. Following the briefs, the defendant’s attorney and the prosecuting attorney must appear in appellate court and state their positions to the appellate court panel.

Wait for the appellate court judges to deliberate your appeals case. Once they have made their decision on whether to uphold your previous ruling or reverse it, one or more of the judges will write concurring opinions which set forth their legal reasoning on the case. If any of the judges disagree with the majority, they may write a dissenting opinion which will outline the reasons why they believe the majority is incorrect. Whatever decision the majority comes to, that is the ruling that will stand. However, your attorney can use the dissenting opinion as legal reasoning for a new precedent in effort to reverse the previous decision.

About the Author

Nico Riley has been a professional writer since 2006 with work appearing on various websites. Riley holds an associate degree in criminal justice from Harold Washington College and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She enjoys writing on topics about society, culture, health, self-help and entertainment.