It is a bit troubling to realize that there are a lot of people out there who are woefully ignorant about how the federal appeals court system works. Granted, most people don’t have to trouble themselves with these kinds of worries because they may not interact with the courts on a regular basis, but it is important in some respects that we all understand how this critical element of our democratic system works.
appeals Are Not What You Think They Are
A lot of people have the impression that the federal appeals system is essentially a roundabout way for people to get the legal results that they want from a court case when things do not initially go their way in a ruling. That is just not the case. The appeals court does not retry the case or even have evidence from the case presented to it. The only purpose of the appeals court is to correct incorrect legal procedure in the lower courts.
An appeals court’s only interest is correcting legal mistakes made by a lower court in terms of procedure. You are not getting a second bite at the apple so to speak, but you may at least be able to convince an appeals court that procedural failings at the lower court caused you to lose your right to a fair trial.
The Courts Move Exceptionally Slow
Any individual seeking relief from an appeals court should realize that this courts do not act in a swift manner. Justice will come to you, but you are going to have to wait around for it. What this means is that you had better be prepared for the long haul. Even the highest quality attorneys have to wait their turn in line when it comes to moving their way through the legal docket.
Arguments Are Unlikely To Be Made In Court
A lot of us get the impression that legal proceedings are these dramatic things that happen in open court via oral arguments made either to a jury or to a panel of judges. The truth of the matter is that is just for television. This is not the way that things work in the real world.
Statistics show that about 3 out of 4 appeals cases are decided without hearing any kind of legal arguments at all. The judges will simply rule based on documents presented to them by both sides in the vast majority of cases. This is a much more efficient way to cut to the chase and lay down a ruling. The courts simply do not have the time to put into hearing each and every case that comes before the court. It just cannot happen.
The Party Appealing Wants To Have Oral Arguments
The person who stands behind the appeal absolutely wants their case to go before the court for oral arguments. It is still possible to lose even if oral arguments are presented (in fact this is probably the norm, but it is still the preferred method for anyone who is appealing a case. The very fact that the court has asked to hear oral arguments means that the judges probably have some questions about your appeal and want answers. This is a good sign that they are at least open to the possibility of ruling in your favor. It is possible to win without oral arguments being given, but this is a rarity.
Technical Requirements Must Be Met
The courts have very strict rules about how documents must be filed. They have a lot of very technical rules about many details that you might not think would matter. In the federal appeals courts every little detail matters. Always remember that. An appeal can be won on a small technicality that you would never have thought of before. This can bring hope to those who are lodging the appeal.