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Appellate Law

Individuals dissatisfied with the decision of a civil or criminal trial have recourse – the Appellate Court. The United States Constitution, as well as individual state constitutions, guarantee the right to appeal. Appellate law deals with judgments that can be appealed and what procedures must be followed to bring appeals before the court, including the filing and challenging of various writs and other issues.

Appellate courts review the evidence and happenings that occurred in trial court; they do not seek out or review evidence that was not presented in the initial trial. It is the job of the Appellate Court, however, to decide if the procedures that were followed at trial were correct and if the appropriate law was utilized during the trial.

In New Jersey appeals are presented to a panel of judges consisting of two or three judges. The panel reviews what happened at the trial level. Generally all facts used in the trial court will be accepted by the panel as facts as well. The Appellate Court, however, has the final say on what is law.

Appellate laws differ between the federal and state legal systems. They also vary between states. In New Jersey, the Appellate Division of the State Superior Court serves as the State’s intermediate Appellate Court. This Division is divided into eight parts, each with three or four judges who rotate annually. New Jersey appeals are not assigned to the parts on a territorial basis as is done on the federal level and in some other states. Decisions made in any of the eight parts are binding throughout New Jersey.

Appeals can be filed after a judgment from a trial court or after a pretrial dismissal. 

In the first instance, the Appellate Court can decide to overrule the trial court’s final decision if the Appellate Court finds legal errors were committed and that those errors adversely affected the outcome. Those errors could include such things as wrongly excluding or admitting evidence, giving the jury incorrect instructions, or not properly following procedures.

In an appeal filed after a judgment following a pretrial dismissal, the Appellate Court decides whether the case should have been dismissed or allowed to go to trial after it reviews the materials of the trial.

Appellate laws vary from court to court and, as a result, may require the expert advice of an experienced appellate law attorney. If you are considering appealing a court decision, contact Kearns Rotolo Law attorneys for advice. Protect your rights. Call Kearns Rotolo Law today.

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