Appeals

Although we hope that judges will make good decisions, judges sometimes make mistakes. An appeal is the review of a lower court’s decision by a higher court. In divorce, custody, and many other cases heard before Utah’s district courts, the higher court is the Utah Court of Appeals or the Utah Supreme Court. In other types of case, other courts may be involved. Regardless of which court hears the appeal, the purpose is to determine whether the lower court made a mistake. If you are considering an appeal, you will want to consider hiring an attorney to help you meet the appeal deadline, prepare your case for appeal, and carry out the appeal.

Appeal Deadlines

If you wish to appeal, there is a deadline. The deadline begins to run after the trial court’s final judgment. Determining the exact date of the deadline can be tricky, especially because it can sometimes change or be delayed. But, generally, the deadline is thirty days, and missing it is fatal. An attorney can help you determine the appeal deadline and evaluate whether you would have a good chance on appeal. The earlier you consult with an attorney, the better you will be able to make the best choice and prepare for the appeal.

Preparing for the appeal is important. Typically, unless you are appealing from small claims court or justice court, an appellate court can only consider the same information and arguments that were before the lower court. This is the rule of preservation. Ideally, you or your attorney conducted your case at trial in a way that protects yourself on appeal. But if not, it may be possible for your appellate attorney to take some actions in the lower court that will help you on appeal or even eliminate your need for an appeal.

Appeal Process

The appellate court is only reviewing the records and looking for mistakes the lower court made. Therefore, the nature of appellate proceedings can be confusing to those unfamiliar with appellate courts. For instance, not only must appellate attorneys argue about whether the trial court was wrong, they argue about whether the trial court was wrong enough to justify reversal. An argument that otherwise sounds good and may have swayed the trial court may be irrelevant to the appellate judges, who are often swamped and have little time to dedicate to your case. If you are appealing, you will want to make proper appellate arguments that are clear and concise. An appellate attorney can help you do this. And, if your trial attorney is an appellate attorney, he or she can ensure that you will have good arguments and material for appeal.

Christensen Law

At Christensen Law, we have handled numerous trial and many appeals. Our appeals experience includes divorce appeals, custody appeals, criminal conviction appeals, and more.

Our experience at the appellate level informs our trial preparation, and our trial experience strengthens the success of our appeals. Whether we are filing an appeal for an existing client whose trial we handled, or a new client needs to file an appeal, we can provide efficient and thorough appellate services. If you are considering an appeal, please call us for a free, 30-minute consultation.

Peter ChristensenAppeals