Sometimes parties are unhappy with one or more of a trial court’s rulings. If, and only if, there is a good faith basis for challenging this ruling under applicable law, we initiate appeals on behalf of our clients and take these matters to the appropriate appellate court. Typically, a trial court’s order cannot be appealed unless it is a “final order.” This means that litigants are bound by trial courts’ decisions in almost every instance unless such decisions are part of the trial court’s Final Judgment, or such decisions require immediate consideration by the appellate court because the passage of time will cause irreparable harm.
In order to pursue an appeal, there must be a valid legal basis, such as a good faith belief that the trial court judge made a mistake of law or failed to fairly apply the law. In order to raise an issue on appeal, the issue also must have been properly preserved during the trial court proceeding. This means that the trial attorney must have either made a proper objection or filed the appropriate records with the trial court. Also, any party that wishes to file an appeal must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the entry of the final order by the trial court. Missing this deadline, by even one day, will prevent an appeal.
Generally, appeals can result in four potential outcomes:
- Reversal – this means the trial court’s decision was wrong and the decision is vacated.
- Remand – this means that the appellate court sends the case back to the trial court to be heard again, with certain instructions.
- Affirmation – this means that the trial court’s decision was correct and remains in full force and effect.
- Modification – this means that the appellate court changes part of the trial court’s initial decision.
In any event, it is a common misconception that the filing an appeal puts a “hold” on a trial court’s order. It absolutely does not, unless either the trial court or the appellate court enters a stay, which is a formal court order that delays the effectiveness of a trial court order for a brief period. A stay can come with conditions, such as the posting of a bond, and is most often denied.
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