Our Firm Can Help You Prepare And File Your Civil Appeal

When a judge makes a ruling in civil court, you expect the end of a considerable legal ordeal. While a positive outcome can give birth to feelings of relief, a less favorable ruling can quickly give rise to panic and defeat.

Fortunately, the option to file an appeal is available. At Joshi Law Group, we help San Diego individuals as they seek to reverse civil case decisions via a thorough and comprehensive approach. A different perspective can occasionally uncover new angles, and our firm will assess your case in painstaking detail, leaving no viable avenue unexplored.

Understanding The Nature Of A Civil Appeal

An appeal is a legal proceeding that allows the losing party to ask for a review of a judge's ruling. Depending on the type of case that is being appealed, it may be reviewed by the appellate division of the superior court, a state court of appeal or a federal court of appeal. These courts are generally known as the higher court, the appellate court and/or the reviewing court.

In an appeal, the appellate court reviews the record in the trial court, as well as the trial court's ruling, to determine if legal errors were made that would justify the relief sought. It is important to understand that an appeal is not a new trial. The appellate court will not reweigh the evidence presented, nor will it consider new evidence such as the testimony of new witnesses or new exhibits.

A reviewing court's duty is to decide if errors were made and, if so, where those errors were prejudicial and require a reversal of the trial court's decision. The identification of these errors is ultimately pivotal to the success of an appeal. Our attorneys can help locate these vulnerabilities in your case, better positioning your appeal for success.

The Process Of Filing An Appeal

Filing a civil appeal is a complex, multistep endeavor. The process itself will often unfold as follows:

  1. A notice of appeal is filed and records are obtained. The appealing party — commonly known as the appellant — must file a notice of appeal and obtain the record of the proceedings being appealed. In state civil cases, this requires something called designating the record. This means that you must let the superior court know what documents and oral proceedings, if any, must be included in the record.
  2. An opening brief is filed. In the opening brief, the appellant points out any errors that may have occurred in the trial court that were serious enough that the result must be changed. The mere fact that errors may have occurred is usually not enough to justify overturning the trial court's ruling — there must be a showing of prejudice as well. The window for this process is 40 days, though extensions can be requested.

  3. The respondent files a brief. Once the opening brief is filed, the opposing party (known as the respondent or the appellee) has an opportunity to file its own brief, arguing that the trial court's ruling was correct. The appellant has the final opportunity to argue and file a reply brief. All briefs must be based solely on the record on appeal.
  4. An oral argument may be requested. Once all the briefs have been filed, the parties or the court may request oral argument. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year for oral argument to be set. Oral argument is an opportunity to highlight important parts of the briefs to the appellate court justices, who have already read and considered the briefs, and for the justices to ask any questions.
  5. The court will issue an opinion. The case is deemed submitted following oral argument or if there is no request for oral argument, when all the briefs have been filed. Courts will then have a certain amount of time to issue an opinion and determine whether the trial court's ruling should be reversed or modified. Overall, an appeal in a California state court may take between 14 and 24 months to resolve, depending on the appellate district.

While appeals will generally adhere to this pattern, it is worth noting that each case will have its unique aspects. We have extensive experience in civil appeals and will work directly with you at each stage of the legal process.

When Should You Consider Filing An Appeal?

An appeal is a lengthy and complicated process that generally should not be undertaken without an attorney. This is because unlike a trial, the appellate court is less concerned with the facts of the case and more concerned with potential legal errors that resulted in prejudice to the appellant.

There are also strict time limits to filing notices of appeal and other appellate documents or motions. It is best to consult with an attorney to ultimately determine whether an appeal would be worthwhile in your case.

Contact Us Today To Discuss Your Appeal

If you are considering challenging a civil court decision, consulting with a lawyer is often a wise initial step. Call us today at 619-822-1399 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You may also contact our firm via email to arrange for an appointment.