An appeal in a civil case can occur both before the case is tried and after. During the course of litigation a variety of issues can arise that can directly impact the outcome of the case. For example, as previously explained, if the Plaintiff loses on a motion for summary judgment his/her case may be over (depending on how many counts of the complaint are thrown out by the trial court. At that point, the Plaintiff will very likely want to appeal the trial court’s decision unless the law on the issue is so clear that an appeal would be frivolous. Additionally, the court may strike the defense’s answer or other pleadings based on some misconduct (failure to comply with discovery, etc.) at which point the defense may wish to challenge the court’s ruling. Under those circumstances, the court has to give the defense permission to appeal because the case isn’t finished.
Once the case has been tried and a jury has returned a verdict, often the losing party appeals the decision. Bases for such an appeal vary but usually involve some alleged error by the trial court in the case. The losing side might take issue with certain evidence that was allowed in that was harmful to the case or evidence that was excluded that would have been beneficial to the case. The judge might have made a mistake in the instructions given to the jury (known as jury charges) that the losing party feels confused the jury or somehow skewed the law against them impermissibly.
TYPICAL LENGTH OF APPEAL
The appellate process can take months to complete. It usually takes two to three months to get all briefs filed with the appellate court plus a few months wait before oral arguments are heard (if oral argument is granted in the case). Because the appellate courts are rather backlogged, it can take several months before a decision is reached by the panel.
FEES AND INTEREST
There are some upsides to the process. First, if the appeal has no merit whatsoever, the responding party can seek attorney’s fees for the frivolous appeal. Second, once a judgment has been entered following the return of the verdict, post-judgment interest begins to accrue and continues to accrue until it is paid in full.
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