Andrew Rubin, Esq.

How appellate courts handle disputes between individuals

When disputes between individuals cannot be resolved, the parties frequently find themselves battling in court. Most people are familiar with criminal courts and criminal trials from seeing them depicted on television and in the movies.

Cases involving torts, family law and other civil matters are heard in the civil courts located throughout New Jersey. If a civil lawsuit does not get settled, it will proceed to trial. During the trial, each side in the dispute will present evidence in support of its position. The judge or jurors will decide which of the parties should win based upon the strength of the evidence.

Civil litigation does not, necessarily, end at the conclusion of a trial. The losing party in a case may ask that the case be heard by one of the appeals courts in either the state court system or, if the trial was held in a federal court, in the federal court system.

It is important in understanding civil appeals to keep in mind that an appellate court does not rule on the facts of a case. Civil appeals are not an opportunity to offer new evidence or call new witnesses. Appeals courts are panels of judges that only rule on legal issues arising from the trial judge’s rulings on the law. An appeal is not a retrial of the case.

The attorneys for each of the parties in civil appeals present their legal arguments in written form in an appellate brief. Sometimes, appellate courts allow the attorneys to orally argue their cases in front of the panel of judges, but even when oral argument is held, appellate briefs must still be filed.

Because of the differences between civil trials and civil appeals, you might benefit from discussing you right to appeal with an attorney who is experienced in handling cases in appellate courts. A knowledgeable civil litigation and appeals attorney should be able to address your questions and concerns about filing an appeal.

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