The hope of every litigant entering a trial is that they will win. Of course, that cannot be the case because one side has to lose. Fortunately for litigants, though, there are times when an appeal is appropriate and can give them an additional opportunity to win their case. The key is knowing when to appeal, and knowing the risks involved.
It is important to know the risks because not every appeal can win. In fact, the chance of any appeal being successful is quite low. For example, in the 11th Circuit of the Federal Courts of Appeals, only 8.9% of the cases appealed were reversed. But that should not scare someone with a good, appealable issue away from taking their case to another level. A good attorney will be able to help their client decide whether an appeal is appropriate or not.
Before we try to understand the appeals process in Florida, it is important to understand Florida's court structure. Florida's court system has several levels, each playing an important part in the justice system. The different courts in Florida are:
Now that we have a clear view of the courts system, lets look at the appeals process itself.
Nobody can appeal a case without a final, appealable issue from a trial court. This can come in a number of ways, but typically it means that either a jury has handed down a verdict, or a judge has issued a decision that makes a case final. There are some exceptions to this general rule, but this is typically when a case will be appealed. Since this is a personal injury law blog, we will focus on circuit court appeals to the district courts of appeal.
After a final decision in a circuit court, the party making an appeal will file a notice of appeal with the district court of appeal in their area. This notice is important and it must be filed within the timeframe described in Florida's Rules of Appellate Procedure. After the notice is filed the appealing party then has to:
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