Appeals

Just because the judge or jury made a decision does not mean it is correct or it should stand. Often the results at trial are just flat wrong. What do you do? You appeal! Over the years Tepper Law Firm has been faced with results at the trial level that simply ignored the law. The Court of Appeal is much more likely to ensure your case is decided in conformity with the law and not the emotion or prejudice of decision makers sometimes evident at trial.

You can take your case to the Court of Appeal both during your case and after it has been decided. When you ask for relief from a particular ruling during your case it is called a Writ. Writs are often effective to ensure a judge understands his decisions are not going to go unchecked during the rest of the case. Just bringing a Writ-- win or lose-- can ensure a more balanced and well reasoned treatment of your case during litigation. It can also result in a reversal of the court's order which, after all, is the ultimate point of taking a Writ.

An Appeal is when you ask the Court of Appeal to reverse the result of your trial after it is over. Nicholas Tepper has been working on appeals since he was a law clerk at the California Court of Appeal during his law school years. If we handled your case at trial, you can be assured we took every possible step to preserve your rights and perfect the record to optimize your chances of winning at the next level. There are many reasons a trial result can end up being reversed on appeal. If that reason exists we will find it and we will win.

You may also find yourself victorious at the trial level and faced with defending an appeal. Just because you won at trial does not mean you should ignore or take the appeal for granted. The appellate process is just as important as the trial process and you need to ensure your hard fought gains are not erased. We defend appeals as vigorously and as well as we prosecute them. Nicholas Tepper has been admitted to practice before the California Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal and the United States Supreme Court. And he has prosecuted appeals in all of these courts. Call TLF if you are considering appealing your trial court decision or if you are faced with defending an appeal.

Here is a basic outline of a lawsuit and the appeals process:

If a state superior court lawsuit results in a final judgment or an appealable order, then an appeal can proceed as follows:

State Court of Appeal: This court consists of a three judge panel who must rule, one way or another, on the case. This process can take up to two years to complete. Their decision then can be appealed to the:

California Supreme Court: This court is the highest court in the State. The judges there can decide to hear your appeal from the State Court of Appeal's decision or they can refuse to hear it. Most cases appealed to the State Supreme court or discretionary, meaning they do not have to hear it if they do not want to. They usually only "take a case" if it involves issue of law not previously decided by the court or if they want to change the law. If they refuse, or if they decide to hear the case and you lose, then your court of last resort is the:

United States Supreme Court: All cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court are discretionary, meaning that court may or may not decide to hear the case. The court receives about 10,000 requests each year and only hears between 75-80 of those. Your case can only become one of the lucky ones heard by this court if it involves significant issues of law that the court has never decided before or wants to change.

Federal Court lawsuits take place on the trial level called the "district court". This is the equivelent of the supeior court in state court. State court lawsuits usually are between two California residents involved ina dispute involving state law. Federal district court lawsuits can only happen when the Federal Court has jurisdiction. This happens when the dispute is between residents of differnt states (this is called "diversity jurisdiction") or involves a dispute involving federal law (this is called "federal question jurisdiction). A case can start out in state superior court and be "removed" (transferred) to Federal Court. When a Federal Court case results in a final judgment or an appealable order, then an appeal can proceed as follows:

Ninth Circuit Court of Apeal: This usually consists of a three judge panel. They are required to hear your case and make a decision one way or another. Once they make a decision the losing party can usually petition the court to hear the case "limited en banc", meaning a rehearing of the three judge panel decision by a new panel of 11 randomly selected judges that may or may not have some or all of the three judges who decided your case originally. The decision to rehear a three judge panel's decision "en banc" is discretionary. If they decide not to hear it "en banc" or if they do and you lose, then your court of last resort is:

United States Supreme Court: All cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court are discretionary, meaning that court may or may not decide to hear the case. The court receives about 10,000 requests each year and only hears between 75-80 of those. Your case can only become one of the lucky ones heard by this court if it involves significant issues of law that the court has never decided before or wants to change.