Trial courts are not perfect institutions and Judges are not infallible. They can and do make mistakes. And sometimes, trial courts are faced with unsettled areas of law, so that no matter what a judge decides, the losing side will have plausible grounds to appeal. An appeal is very different from a trial. No evidence is presented for a judge or jury to weigh. No witnesses are called. Almost the whole appeal is conducted on paper. And instead of there being just one judge, there is a panel of three (and, occasionally, more). An appeal is not a second trial, but an opportunity to correct legal error that was prejudicial.The skills and knowledge to bring and defend appeals differ from those required in trial courts. Whichever side of the appeal you are on, the best decision is usually to hire appellate counsel who will bring experience and a new mind to a different type of battle.
Answers to Some Common Questions
How can the Law Offices of Tobie B. Waxman help you with your appeal?
I can help determine if your case is proper for appeal and if it will be worth the time and money to appeal. The process of an appeal is complicated. There are very specific rules regarding the formatting and layout of documents, deadlines and court procedures. If it is not done correctly, the appeal may be denied. I am familiar with the rules and procedures and will be able to guide your case through the appeals process.
How much does an appeal cost?
There are many factors that determine how much an appeal can cost including how many issues are being appealed, whether you are the appellant or appellee (responding to an appeal), the length of trial and the complexity of the issues. An appeal can cost thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs, which include paying for the transcripts, appellate filing fees, postage, and copying costs. Moreover, as of 7/1/2015 the filing fee for a Notice of Appeal is $775 payable to the Clerk, Court of Appeal, plus an additional $100 as a deposit made payable to the "Clerk of the Superior Court". All other parties to the appeal (including the Respondent/responding party) pay $390 when they file their first document in the Court of Appeal.
How is an appellate case different than my case in the trial court?
During your civil or divorce trial there were probably witnesses testifying, exhibits and argument by counsel. An appellate court does not rehear the case or hold a new trial. In the appellate case, there are no witnesses, no new exhibits or testimony. Instead, each party files a brief with only legal argument and the appellate court reviews what happened in the trial court to see if there was a legal mistake.
The threshold burden for what the appellate court has to find to change the trial court's decision is very high. The appellate court can only reverse the trial court if it finds a legal mistake in the trial court proceedings that was significant enough to change the outcome of the case. As a consequence, the majority of appeals are lost, so it is unlikely, typically, that the appellate court reverses the trial court. If you are the responding party to an appeal, this is good news.
Do I have to give a reason for my appeal?
I am often asked to help someone with their appeal for the sole reason that they were not happy with the outcome of their case. Disagreeing with the outcome of your case is not a reason to appeal. You must give a reason for your appeal. You must describe the legal mistake that you think the trial court made. The mistake must either be a prejudicial error, which means there was a mistake about the law or court procedures that caused you substantial harm, OR a lack of substantial evidence to support the decision.