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The Civil Appeals Process in California Explained

The Civil Appeals Process in California Explained

If you have lost a civil case in California, you still have legal options to appeal the ruling. An appeal is different than a trial and can be a complex process to try and navigate on your own. It is important to understand the differences between a civil trial and an appeal as well as how the civil appellate process works in California. To learn more about your legal options for a civil appeal, talk to an experienced attorney in your area today.

What is an Appeal?

After an unfavorable ruling in court, you can appeal the decision to the next level of civil court. Unlike a civil trial, in an appeal, there is no new evidence presented and no new witness testimony. The appellate court reviews the transcripts of the trial to determine whether there was an error of law or procedure that took place that would fundamentally change the outcome of the case. It is important to note that the appeals process is not a new trial.

California Civil Appeals Process

If your civil case was heard in a California state court, the appeal will be heard by a California Court of Appeal. There are six districts in the state, and appeals are sent to the district where the trial court is located. The first step in the appeals process is to file a Notice of Appeal in the trial court. The statute of limitations states that this notice must typically be filed within 60 days of the trial court judgment. The notice must contain each appealable order or judgment that the appellate court will review.

The next step is to create the appellate record. These are the documents that the appellate court will review to determine whether an error was made at the trial court level. If something is not in the appellate record, it will not be considered for review. The record typically includes a transcript of the trial proceedings, evidence submitted during trial, and all motions, pleadings, and orders that were a part of the original trial.

After the appellate record is created, your lawyer will begin crafting arguments and drafting written briefs to be submitted to the appellate court. The brief contains a history and facts of the case in addition to the arguments for why there was an error of procedure or law at the trial level. During this time, motions may also be argued in appellate court over substantive or procedural issues in the case. If both sides do not settle during the briefing and motions period, the case goes to oral arguments in the Court of Appeal. Each side will have an opportunity to present their positions and answer questions asked by the appellate judges. A decision is then rendered by the appellate court, which is typically in writing and submitted within 90 days.

If the appellate decision is still unfavorable, you can appeal the appellate decision up to the California Supreme Court. This is reserved only for cases where the appellate court made an obvious error in their ruling.

Talk to a Lawyer

To learn more about your legal options for civil appeals, talk to a local attorney today.