Read this guide for everything you must know about the legal definition of the Appellate Law– What it means, who is Appellant & Appellee, how to file an appeal, and more!

What is Appellate Law?

By the Appellate Law, if the trial court passes a verdict that is not favorable, the losing party has the right to file for an appeal which an appellate court reviews to understand the possibility of a different outcome. This doesn’t mean a new trial will commence, nor can a party present new evidence.

The Appellate Law simply permits a higher court to review evidence, testimonials, and court transcripts and scrutinize if the verdict needs to be altered.

All the states in the U.S. have passed laws that automatically appeal some case types, or they could have their own. A lawyer, known as the appellate attorney, specializes in such cases.

They prepare a brief on the case, highlighting the critical points, and present it to the appellate court; and, if given an opportunity, the attorney can argue the case points directly to the court. After review, the appellate court can decide to over-rule the current verdict, uphold it, or return the matter to the lower court.

It is important to note that appellate courts can deny appeals.

Notable appeal cases have the opportunity to lead to changes in the law and are powerful thus.

Appellant Legal Glossary definition

Who is Called Appellant & Appellee?

An appellant is a party that is discontent with the verdict and has motioned the appeal to an appellate court, while the appellee is the opposing party that has received the favorable judgment or verdict from the lower court.

An appellant is the one who appeals, and they can be from either the prosecution & defense side, as commonly seen in civil & criminal lawsuits. In some courts, the appellant is called the petitioner, while the appellee is called the respondent.

Can You Appeal an Appellate Court Decision?

An appeal on an appellate court’s decision is made to the state Supreme Court. Just like the U.S. Supreme Court, they don’t hear every case that comes before them, so you have to file a petition for them to review your case.

If you win an appeal, there are laws that can make the opposing party pay for attorney’s fee and damages tied to the lawsuit’s appeal. This is possible in most civil lawsuits unless the court orders otherwise.

What is a Writ of Certiorari?

In a case of appeal, the appellant or petitioner can request the Supreme Court of the U.S. to revisit the lawsuit and modify the verdict. The common reasons for appeal are:

  • Legal Error
  • Misstatements and omissions
  • Misconduct from the member of the jury
  • Inefficient counsel

For an appeal in a higher court, a petition requests the higher court to grant a writ of certiorari. This is the official order that a higher court makes to intimate the lower court to send all essential lawsuit documents. The court sometimes grants appeals. According to Supreme Court’s rules, 4 out of 9 Justices must vote to accept a case.

How to Appeal an Appellate Court Decision?

An appellant attorney can help with the proceeding for an appeal in higher courts. According to the law, the appellant has a specific period of time to prepare a brief and present it to the court.

The states also have guidelines about the maximum amount of pages and even some a max word count for each brief and what it must contain about the case in detail. For example, in Florida, the brief can be a maximum of 150 pages. The same concepts apply to the appellee.

  1. File a Notice of Appeal to the Appellate Court
  2. The appellant must file a brief
  3. Appellee can answer brief
  4. An appellant may then file a second brief responding to the arguments in the appellee’s brief.

The process starts with the filing of a Notice of Appeal. With this, the time period within which the appellant must file a brief commences. The brief must not be more than a certain amount of pages, depending on the jurisdiction, and contains a written statement with all relevant details and arguments as to why the verdict must be altered.

In the same manner, the appellee must revert with an answering brief within a specific time. In response, the appellant may file another brief answering the appellee’s statements.

Sometimes, appeal courts make their decision only based on the written briefs. Other times, they hear oral arguments before deciding on a verdict. If one of the parties requests an oral argument, the court often grants it and calls for an oral argument.

During the hearing, the attorneys from both sides are given an opportunity to present & argue the case briefly and any questions which the appellate judge may have. For example, this duration is one hour in the U.S. Supreme Court, while federal courts have time less than 10-15 minutes.

What Do Appellate Judges Look For When They Review a Case?

When filing for appeals, it is important to note that this is not essentially a re-trial. Appellate judges don’t sit through a new trial but only review the lawsuit’s details. While doing so, the fundamental parameters they evaluate the verdict on are:

  • Legal Error: The judge reviews the legal standards and laws applied to the case to arrive at the verdict
  • Abuse of Judicial Discretion: If a lower court abuses its Judicial Discretion, this would be reviewed, along with the evidence that was used & excluded in the trial
  • A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel
  • Violation of U.S. Constitutional Rights: If the verdict or any part of the trial is a violation of the appellant’s rights.

How Does Appellate Jurisdiction Differ from Original?

Appellate jurisdiction implies that the court has the authority to review lower courts’ decisions. According to the U.S. Courts, the Constitution limits original jurisdiction cases to those involving disputes between the states or conflicts between ambassadors & high-ranking officials/ministers.

Can a Misdemeanor Appeal Go to Appellate Court?

Yes, a Misdemeanor appeal can go to an Appellate Court. For instance, in California, you can get form CR-131-INFO at any courthouse, county law library, or online at This form is primarily for Misdemeanor appeals.

What are the Costs Associated With Filing an Appeal in Appellate Courts?

Appeals are very expensive since they can be very time-consuming and involve many cost factors:

  • Appellate attorney bills
  • Attorney travel expenses
  • Court filing costs
  • Transcription costs

For instance, transcription costs as much as $2,000 per full day of hearings. The day of the appellate hearing could cost more than $5,000 on the low end if you require multiple attorneys to represent you in appellate court.

How Much Does an Appellate Attorney Cost?

The fees of an Appellate Attorney can depend on the nature of the contract you share with them. However, an estimate would start at $400-600 per billable hour. If the case is complex, the total cost will increase because the case will require more of the attorney’s time.


Written by Aaron R. Winston
Last Updated: April 9, 2023 8:44pm CDT