What is an Appeals Court?
An appeals court is any judicial system that is empowered by a governing body to hear an appeal of a previous decision delivered by a trial court or a lower tribunal. In the majority of jurisdictions throughout the United States and Great Britain, the appeals court system is divided into at least three classifications: the trial court, which is responsible for hearing cases and reviewing evidence and subsequent testimonies to determine the irrefutable facts of the particular case; an intermediate appeals court; and lastly the supreme court, or court of last resort, which establishes a primary review process to review the decision handed-down by the intermediate appeals court.
As a result of this classification system, a supreme court is viewed as a kind of appeals court. That being said, appeals courts, will operate through a particular set of operational rules established by the underlying government body.
Institutional Rules of an Appeals Court:
The majority of jurisdictions in the United States title their appeals courts the court of appeals or a court of appeals. Through a historic measure, other jurisdictions in the United States have labeled their court of appeals as a court of errors, based on the premise that the system was created to correct the errors made by the lower court systems.
Depending on the particular system, certain courts may dually serve as both a trial court and an appeal court, to effectively hear the appeals of previous decisions made by court systems with a limited jurisdiction. Furthermore, some jurisdictions in the United States possess specialized courts (for example the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals), which will only hear appeals rose in particular case matters, such as criminal cases.
Another example of these specialized systems is the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which possesses a general jurisdiction but derives the majority of its caseload from patent cases and handles the appeals of the Court of Federal Claims.
Review Powers of an Appeals Court:
The appeals court possesses the authority to review the varying decisions of lower courts over a number of jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, the appeals court may have limited authority in regards to reviewing capabilities; for example, in the United States, both the state and federal appeal system typically are restricted in regards to examining whether the below court made the accurate legal determination.
Additionally, the US appeals courts are typically restricted to reviewing and hearing appeals based on legal matters that were originally brought before the trial court. As a result of this characteristic, the appeals court will not consider and appealing party’s argument if it is based on a theory that is brought-about for the first time in the appeals court.
In the majority of U.S. states and in the federal court system, parties are allowed one appeal as a right granted by the United States Constitution. This right enables a party who is unsatisfied with the outcome of a trial the ability to make an appeal to contest that outcome. That being said, the appeals process is costly and the respect appeals court must find an egregious error on the part of the working court of low to overturn the original verdict. With this in mind, only a small percentage of trial court decisions will result in an overturn or an appeal.