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What is Appellate Law?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Challenging the final decision made by a court is known as an appeals process. Appellate law is the body of legislation that regulates that process. Although appeals are also handled by the judicial branch, the proceedings are much different than the proceedings of a court trial.

The party in a court case that is ruled against has the right to ask a higher court to review the decision. This is known as the right to appeal. In the United States, this right is granted by both the federal and state governments. The higher court does not have to accept that request. One of the primary functions of appellate law is to determine which cases can be reviewed for appeal.

In order for a case to be accepted, it generally has to meet certain standards. Contrary to popular belief, a case is not appealed because a party is not happy with the outcome. A case is accepted for appeal when it is believed the court made an error.

Appellate law also outlines the procedures for cases that are accepted. This body of legislation provides guidelines for each party to submit their cases to the court. The law also outlines what is necessary if the original ruling is to be reversed.

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One of the first differences between a court case at trial and a case that is appealed is the lack of discovery. In legal terminology, discovery refers to a process where legal tools are requested and exchanged to help each side discover information that could help support their case. The legal tools include subpoenas, requests for admission, and requests to produce documents.

Discovery is not necessary in an appeals process because appellate law does not allow new information to be presented. An appeal is not an opportunity for a lawyer to build a better case. An appeal is a process where a higher court reviews the information that was available to the lower court and analyzes the decision made based on that information.

The appellant, or the party who wants to appeal, argues that the lower court’s decision was somehow improper. The party who originally had a favorable result is the appellee. This party’s role in an appellate case is to show why the court’s original ruling was appropriate.

The original case should have been presided over by one judge. If there was a decision-making panel, it was a group known as a jury. Appellate decisions, however, involve a panel of judges who determine whether or not errors were made and how the cases should be handled thereafter.

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