Search The Library's Lexicon
A request to a supervisory court, usually composed of a panel of judges, to review a lower court's decision.
When one or both parties to a lawsuit disagree with the result in the trial court, it is usually possible to get a higher court (called an appellate court) to review the decision. Normally, an appellate court reviews only whether the trial court followed the correct law and procedures, and no evidence is presented. Some states have two levels of appeals courts; an appeal is usually first considered by an intermediate court (often called a court of appeals). If a party is still unhappy with the result, it is sometimes possible to get the state's highest court (usually called the supreme court) to review the case.
To appeal the trial court's decision, a notice must usually be filed with the trial court within a short period of time (usually about 30 days) after the entry of judgment by the court clerk.
The appellate court will require that both sides submit briefs and may also require the parties to orally argue before the court. After weighing the evidence submitted, the court makes its ruling, called a holding.
As a general rule, 'a federal appellate court does not consider an issue not passed upon below.' Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 120 (1976). This is not a hard and fast rule: 'The matter of what questions may be taken up and resolved for the first time on appeal is one left primarily to the discretion of the courts of appeals, to be exercised on the facts of individual cases. . .' Id. There are circumstances in which a federal appellate court is justified in resolving an issue not passed on below, as where the proper resolution is beyond any doubt, see Turner v. City of Memphis, 369 U.S. 350 (1962), or where 'injustice might otherwise result.' Hormel v. Helvering, 312 U.S. 552, 557 (1941).
Waiver of Right to Appeal: A defendant may waive the statutory right to appeal his sentence. Navarro-Botello, 912 F.2d at 321. However, an express waiver of the right to appeal a sentence is valid only if knowingly and voluntarily made. Bolinger, 940 F.2d at 480; Navarro-Botello, 912 F.2d at 322. Courts look to circumstances surrounding the signing and entry of the plea agreement to determine whether the defendant agreed to its terms knowingly and voluntarily. See, e.g., Navarro-Botello, 912 F.2d at 321.
Final Judgment Rule: An appeal from most pretrial orders is typically considered interlocutory, and, therefore, not appealable as a final decision under 28 U.S.C. S 1291.
Collateral Order Exception To The Final-Judgment Rule: The collateral order exception to the final-judgment rule was first announced in Cohen v. Beneficial Indus. Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541 (1949). Cohen recognized a "small class" of district court decisions that finally determine claims collateral to other rights asserted in the action and are too important to be deferred until the whole case is adjudicated. Id. at 546. The small class of cases defined in Cohen consists of intermediate decisions satisfying three criteria: (1) the district court's order must finally dispose of the question; (2) the issue must be completely collateral to the cause of action asserted; and (3) the decision must involve an important right that would be "lost, probably irreparably, " if review must await final judgment. Id.
English Crim. Law. The accusation of a person, in a legal form, for a crime committed by him; or, it is the lawful declaration of another man's crime, before a competent judge, by one who sets his name to the declaration, and undertakes to prove it, upon the penalty which may ensue thereon. Appeals of murder, as well as of treason, felony, or other offences, together with wager of battle, are abolished by stat.
Practice. The act by which a party submits to the decision of a superior court, a cause which has been tried in an inferior tribunal.
The appeal generally annuls the judgment of the inferior court, so far that no action can be taken upon it until after the final decision of the cause. Its object is to review the whole case, and to secure a just judgment upon the merits.
An appeal differs from proceedings in error, under which the errors committed in the proceedings are examined, and if any have been committed the first judgment is reversed; because in the appeal the whole case is exainined and tried as if it had not been tried before.