What is an Appellate Court?
An appellate court, which is also referred to as an appeals court or court of appeals, is any court system of law that is given the power to hear and process an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal hearing. As a result of this definition, an appellate court, in the United States and other common law jurisdictions, is given the authority to retry any previous verdicts or court rulings of a lower court.
The appellate court will hear cases brought by the appellant or individual who was previously found guilty in a lower court system. The appellant is given this ability to reconsider a verdict based on the rights and liberties expressed in the United States Constitution. That being said, the appellant must understand the specific regulations and qualifications that will revolve around their particular appeal.
In the majority of jurisdictions throughout the United States, the appellate court system is divided into at least three categories or levels: the trial court, which is the stage that initially hears or tires cases to subsequently review them; during the process the court system (judges or a jury) will evaluate all evidence and testimonies attached to a case to determine the undeniable facts of the case; an intermediate appellate court; and lastly a supreme court or highest court, which will review decisions previously rendered by the intermediate courts.
The Supreme Court, therefore, is a kind of appellate court, which is responsible for affirming decisions through a review of statements and arguments to qualify a previously rendered verdict.
Although the United States maintains a distinct classification system for the appellate court system, each appellate division and their underlying rules and regulations will vary from country to country. Furthermore, the differentiation present in rules and regulations will invariably place incongruences in regards to the appeal process. Understanding your particular jurisdiction’s rules and regulations regarding the appeal process will streamline your application; furthermore, understanding the appeal processes for your particular case and subject matter will also streamline your ability to obtain a hearing in an appellate court.
The Appellate Court’s ability to review:
The generic appellate court possesses the ability to review a decision of a lower court; however, the lower courts and the ability of the appellant to file a brief will vary widely from one jurisdiction to another. In some jurisdictions, the authority of the appellate court will be limited; for example, in the United States, both the federal and state appellate courts are typically restricted to examining whether the below court offered the correct legal determinations in the previous hearing, rather than hearing direct evidence and determining what the actual facts of the case were.
That being said, the appellant may not deliver new information in an appellate court; the appellate court, in the United States, the appellant is typically restricted to evaluating matters that were originally brought up before the trial court.
The typical appellate will also not consider an argument if based on a theory that is raised for the first time in the appeal; no new information or claims are brought-up in the appellate court. Although the right to appeal is granted to the majority of convicted individuals, the process to initiate an appeal is costly and to reverse the decision, the appellate court must find an error on the part of the court of law that previously delivered a verdict to the case.