Appeals FAQ: Your Appeals Questions Answered

Aug 2, 2021 | Litigation

If you disagree with the outcome of your case, you may be able to appeal the decision. An appeal can lead to the underlying decision being reversed and gaining a favorable outcome. Prior to appealing, there are several factors that you must consider. 

What is a civil appeal?

A civil appeal is the legal process in which the appellant asks an appellate court to determine whether the lower court’s reasoning or procedure was proper. The lower court’s reasoning was improper if it made a reversible error━a significant legal error that resulting in an appellate court reversing the judgment. However, the lower court’s reasoning was proper if it simply made an error━a minor or inconsequential mistake. To evaluate whether the lower court acted properly, the appellate court will review the lower court’s decision━not retry the case. Therefore, the appellate court does not typically hear any new evidence. 

If the appellate court takes your case, the appellate court will review the lower court’s decision and issue its own decision. That decision will either confirm the lower court’s decision, reverse the lower court’s decision, remand the case to the lower court to reconsider its decision based on the information that the higher court provided, or a combination of any of these. 

In Idaho and Washington, we have two types of appellate courts: the Idaho/Washington Court of Appeals and the Idaho/Washington Supreme Court. In Idaho, most civil appeals will go directly to the Idaho Supreme Court. The Idaho Court of Appeals will hear only appeals on cases from the Idaho District Court that are assigned to it by the Idaho Supreme Court. Conversely, in Washington, appeals from superior courts typically go directly to the Washington Court of Appeals. The Washington Court of Appeals is a non-discretionary appellate court━it must accept all appeals that are filed. Additionally, the Washington Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over actions against state officers and appellate jurisdiction over cases that involve money or value of property in excess of $200. In all other cases, the Washington Supreme Court has the discretion to review Washington Court of Appeals’ decisions.

Should I appeal?

A difficult part of the appeal process is deciding whether or not you should appeal. The appeal process is costly and time-consuming; however, the benefit of favorably altering a law or protecting your life, liberty, business, career, or money might be worth it. If you decide to appeal, there are prerequisites that you must consider, including appealing with the proper grounds. The following are a few examples of proper grounds for appeal: the judge made an error of law; the case facts and/or the evidence introduced at trial do not support the judge’s decision, or the judge abused his or her discretion.  

Next Steps?

If you think that appealing is the right choice for you, remember that in Idaho you have 42 days and in Washington you have 30 days from the date that the lower court’s judgment or order was entered to file a notice of appeal. If you need assistance in filing a timely appeal or deciding whether appealing is right for you, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

This blog post is designed to provide general information on pertinent legal topics. The statements made are provided for educational purposes only. This blog does not provide legal advice. This blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Smith + Malek, PLLC. If you want to create an attorney-client relationship and have specific questions regarding the application of the law to your own circumstances, you should contact our office.