Oregon litigants may appeal a decision made by a civil court judge or a judgement returned by a civil court jury. However, an appeal is not a second chance to argue their case, and they must be able to show that an error was made in applying the law for their appeal to be successful. The appeals process begins when attorneys file written arguments with the court called appellate briefs. After these written arguments have been reviewed, the attorneys may be asked to make oral arguments.
There are significant differences between a trial and an appeal. Trials are based on facts and evidence, but appeals focus on the way that the law was applied. Appellate courts accept the facts as they were presented at trial, and there are generally no witnesses called or new evidence introduced during civil appeals. Another difference between a trial and an appeal is the number of judges involved. Trials are presided over by one judge, but appeals are heard by a number of judges.
An appeals court decision is based on the record. This documents the civil case from pre-trial hearings to post-trial motions. Arguments must convince appeals judges that a mistake was made, and an attorney’s failure to introduce a key piece of evidence or ask a pertinent question would not be considered a mistake in applying the law.
Oregon residents are often frustrated when a civil court decision or judgement does not go the way that they had hoped. While they have the right to appeal, this path should be taken based upon legal considerations rather than what may be considered fair or just. An experienced civil litigation attorney may be able to examine the record to determine if an error was made in the way that the law was applied and could file an appellate brief if such an error were to be discovered.
Source: Findlaw, “Civil Court Cases“, November 17, 2014