What is an appeal?
An appeal is the legal process to ask a higher court to review a decision by a judge in a lower court (trial court) because you believe the judge made a mistake. A litigant who files an appeal is called an appellant. A litigant against whom the appeal is filed is called an appellee. The higher court, which may be called a court of appeals, appellate court, or supreme court, looks at the “record,” which includes the transcript, evidence, and documents from the trial court, and decides if the judge made certain mistakes that must be corrected.
Keep in mind:
- You can only file an appeal after there has been a final ruling in your case, although there are some exceptions to this rule. In certain circumstances, you may file an “interlocutory appeal” to appeal the judge’s decision on an issue during an ongoing court case.
- Pursuing an appeal does not stop the court order that you are appealing from going into effect; the order goes into effect immediately and must be followed during the entire appeal process unless you file a Motion to Stay and a “stay” is granted. See What is a motion to stay? How does it affect the order I am appealing? for more information.
- You cannot introduce new evidence when you appeal your case to a higher court. The higher court only looks at what was said and done in the trial court.