In the United States Federal Court System, the intermediate court level is the court of appeals, where decisions from lower trials or federal administrative agencies can be appealed. The losing party of a case can appeal the decision in the appeals court stating that the verdict of a trial court needs revisions.
However, depending on the case nature, the eligibility to appeal the trial court’s decision is not open to all. In a civil case, both sides may appeal the verdict; instead, in a criminal case, the defendant may appeal the verdict but the government may not appeal the verdict if the defendant is found not guilty.
THE APPEALS PROCESS
A litigant known as an “appellant” files an appeal where she or he must show that the trial court or administrative agency made a legal error and the verdict should be reviewed. The court of appeals doesn’t conduct a new trial. It just takes the records of a lower trial or administrative agency, requests related documents, organizes them and either affirms or reverses the decision. The court doesn’t question case witnesses or gather additional evidence.
Generally appeals are decided by three judges working together. The appellant presents legal arguments in a written form known as a “brief”. A brief is a document, where the appellant briefly presents the key points of the verdict that should be revised because of reversible errors. The other part, known as the “appellee”, presents why the trial court or agency is correct in their decision. Once there are some errors in the lower court’s decision, the appellee briefly states that the errors made in the trial court weren’t significant to affect the overall outcome of the case.
Although some cases are presented on a written form at the appellate court there can be oral arguments as well. Each side is given about 15 minutes to present the arguments to the court.
Decision made by the court of appeals will be the final unless the court decides to send it back to the trial court for a more detailed case investigation. In the other case, the sides may ask the Supreme Court to review appeals court’s decision.