Chenoweth Law Group

Appealing federal trial court decisions

As many Oregon residents know, the outcome of a civil case brought in federal court may be appealed by asking an appellate court to reverse or modify the lower court's decision. Either side may file an appeal in a civil case. The appellate court may also be asked to review decisions made by administrative agencies such as the Social Security Administration and bankruptcy courts.

The appeal is made to the particular U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that has jurisdiction over the lower U.S. District Court. . The appellate court's conclusion is usually the final word unless the case is brought before the Supreme Court, where a writ of certiorari is filed asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

In order to begin the civil appeals process, the appellant must file a notice of appeal. The appellant bears the burden of showing the appellate court that the lower court or agency made the wrong legal decision. The appellate court does not allow witnesses or evidence that was not submitted in the trial court. The appellant puts its argument in a written brief, which includes references to case law. The appellate court may request oral arguments, which are short, focused discussions between attorneys and the court.

Bankruptcy court rulings may be appealed in district court. However, panels have been established to hear bankruptcy cases directly by some appellate courts. An appeal may be filed to challenge the outcome of a case, and the guidance of an attorney familiar with the process is beneficial. The attorney may review the case to determine if legal error exists. If so, the attorney may write the brief and be available for oral arguments.

Source: United States Courts, "The Appeals Process", October 16, 2014

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