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Federal Appeals Courts Are Complicated
The federal appeals process is a lot more complicated than you probably realize. Most of us don’t spend a ton of time thinking about the federal courts, and when we do we often get things wrong. We have been informed by the media and legal dramas about the courts and how they work, and so much of that information is wildly wrong. In this piece we seek to correct the record a little bit and help people understand a bit more about their federal appeals court system.

This Is Not A Second Chance Court

The point of an appeal is not to give the defendant a second chance at winning their case. The real point of it is to correct any legal issues that may arise from rulings made by lower courts. It is easy for a lower court to make a mistake with some technical part of the procedural process of court at some point along the way. Avoiding this mistake is critical to getting justice to every defendant.

Appeals Courts Do Not Generally Change Rulings

District courts hold a lot of power given that their rulings are typically what goes when it comes to the legal process. People like to think that they have extra opportunities to appeal their case until they get a favorable ruling, but that is not really the case. You get your first shot in the district court, and then as long as nothing goes wrong there you are probably stuck with that ruling. The appeals courts can only correct technical and procedural issues made by lower courts.

Oral Arguments Are Unlikely To Happen

Do you long for the opportunity to get before the court so that you may make your case to a real person who will understand where you are coming from? That is a nice sentiment, and it is probably not going to happen. You are very likely to only have the opportunity to submit written testimony and documents to the court for them to review. Does this seem unfair? Perhaps so, but the courts do not have the time to have oral arguments held for each and every case that is appealed to them.

There is about a 75% chance that you will not get to the speak to the appeals court at all. The sooner that you realize this, the sooner you can begin to plan your next move.

Relief From The Appeals Court Can Be Temporary

Winning an argument at the appeals court level does not guarantee that the case will be thrown out at all. In fact, this happens very rarely. Instead, most clients are given a bit of relief on some particular legal issue that they have brought to the court. You may not even be all that thrilled with the ruling that you end up getting. You may be in the same or even a worse position than you were before when it is all said and done. Appeals courts have the ability to rule just how they want to, and you may not be pleased with the outcome.

These Appeals Are Expensive

Do not think for a minute that you are getting a free ride to launch your appeal. Many lawyers actually charge more money for the appeals process than they do for the original trial. You might as well prepare for a financial hit when you start to get involved in the appeals process. This is very likely where things are going to go for you once it gets started.

The appeals courts still serve an important role in our legal system despite some of their frustrations and flaws. Therefore, you should try to look at things from both sides of the coin and make a judgement about what is right for your particular case. Should you appeal or not? It depends largely on the circumstances of your case.

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