There’s a tremendous misunderstanding about what it means to appeal a legal verdict after a trial. That misunderstanding can lead litigants to make some grave errors that could affect their future for a long time.
When you appeal a verdict, it is not the same thing as a new trial. That may be the biggest misconception about appeals in general. An appeal may open the door that could lead to a retrial or a rehearing of certain pieces of evidence that were used at trial, but that comes after a successful appellate effort — not before.
An appeal attacks the judgment of the court that heard the original case on legal grounds alone. There are a very limited number of issues that you can use to mount an appeal and all of them essentially boil down to the idea that grave errors were made in the initial judicial process that led to your verdict.
As far as the appellate court is concerned, the facts of your case are no longer in dispute. In some cases, the appellate court may decide that critical evidence was improperly excluded. For the most part, however, the appellate court will not consider new evidence.
One of the most significant differences between a trial and an appeal, however, is their format. A trial attorney’s strengths usually lie in oral arguments — knowing how to present a case that can be understood by the average person. By comparison, an appellate attorney’s strengths usually lie in crafting compelling written arguments that are highly technical. Many appeals are decided entirely from written arguments alone.
Before you choose the attorney you want to represent you during a civil appeal, consider carefully the sort of strengths you want to see that attorney demonstrate. The outcome of your case may depend on it.