Appellate law regulates appeals made in court. Typically, all cases are tried in a trial court. The outcome of a case is usually a judgment or a dismissal. If one of the parties involved is not satisfied with the outcome, that party may appeal it.

While appellate rules vary from state to state, most states have common procedures. Appellate laws serve as guides to how judgments may be appealed, what determines a judgment reversal and how appeals should be presented to the court.

Filing a notice of appeal in a trial court is the first step in appealing a court decision. An appellate record is then created, containing the information from the trial court that the appellant (the appealing party) wants to share with the appellate court. An appellate court reviews the information presented, referred to as briefs, to determine whether the trial court followed procedure in accordance with the law. In response to the appellant, the appellee (the non-appealing party) may file a brief in favor of the trial court’s decision. After the briefs are reviewed, the appellate court may hear an oral argument. Ultimately, an appellate court has the final say in the case but will reverse a judgment only if the trial court made legal errors. An appellate panel decides appeals with its judgment given in writing, detailing its decision.

A party dissatisfied with the decision of an appeal may petition a higher appellate court (state Supreme Court) to review the case. However, state Supreme Courts are not obligated to take the case.

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