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Monday, December 29, 2008

What is an appeal?

An appeal is a way in which the party that looses in the trial has a chance to show whether the court's decision was in error, or some procedure was violated by the court. For the most part, the party appealing is called the appellant, or the petitioner. The other party is the appellee or the respondent. The appeal is instituted with the filing of a notice of appeal.

This filing marks the beginning of the time period within which the appellant must file a brief, a written argument containing that side's view of the facts and the legal arguments upon which they rely in seeking a reversal of the trial court. In Texas, this notice of appeal must be in writing and within 30 days of the verdict. The appellee then has a specified time to file an answering brief.

Many people believe that cases are always appealed. But that is not always the case. Not often does a losing party have an automatic right of appeal. Usually, there must be a legal basis for the appeal—an alleged material error in the trial—not just that the losing party did not like the verdict.

In a civil case, either party may appeal to a higher court. In a criminal case, only the defendant has a right to an appeal. Appeals by the prosecution after a verdict are not normally allowed because of the prohibition in the U. S. Constitution against double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same crime.

The right of a federal review imposes the check of the federal courts on abuses that may occur in the state courts. Criminal defendants convicted in state courts have a further safeguard. After using all of their rights of appeal on the state level, they may file a writ of habeas corpus in the federal courts in an attempt to show that their federal constitutional rights were violated.

An appeal is not a retrial or a new trial of the case, although in Texas, a motion for a new trial is required to perfect an appeal. The appeals courts do not usually consider new witnesses or new evidence. Appeals in either civil or criminal cases are usually based on arguments that there were errors in the trial’s procedure or errors in the judge's interpretation of the law.

If you need a law firm to handle your appeal, please call us (210) 979-9777 or visit our website http://www.thebaezlafirm.com/ for a free consultation on your case.

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