Appellate court

An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court, court of appeals (American English),[1] appeal court (British English), court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In most jurisdictions, the court system is divided into at least three levels: the trial court, which initially hears cases and reviews evidence and testimony to determine the facts of the case; at least one intermediate appellate court; and a supreme court (or court of last resort) which primarily reviews the decisions of the intermediate courts. A jurisdiction's supreme court is that jurisdiction's highest appellate court.[2] Appellate courts nationwide can operate under varying rules.[3]

The authority of appellate courts to review the decisions of lower courts varies widely from one jurisdiction to another. In some areas, the appellate court has limited powers of review. Generally, an appellate court's judgment provides the final directive of the appeals courts as to the matter appealed, setting out with specificity the court's determination that the action appealed from should be affirmed, reversed, remanded or modified.[4]

Bifurcation of civil and criminal appeals

While many appellate courts have jurisdiction over all cases decided by lower courts, some systems have appellate courts divided by the type of jurisdiction they exercise. Some jurisdictions have specialized appellate courts, such as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which only hears appeals raised in criminal cases, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has general jurisdiction but derives most of its caseload from patent cases, on one hand, and appeals from the Court of Federal Claims on the other. In the United States, Alabama, Tennessee, and Oklahoma also have separate courts of criminal appeals. Texas and Oklahoma have the final determination of criminal cases vested in their respective courts of criminal appeals,[5] while Alabama and Tennessee allow decisions of its court of criminal appeals to be finally appealed to the state supreme court.[6][7]

Courts of criminal appeals

Court of Criminal Appeals include:


Courts of civil appeals

Appellate courts by country

New Zealand

The Court of Appeal of New Zealand, located in Wellington, is New Zealand's principal intermediate appellate court.[8] In practice, most appeals are resolved at this intermediate appellate level, rather than in the Supreme Court.[9]

Sri Lanka

The Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka, located in Colombo, is the second senior court in the Sri Lankan legal system.

United States

In the United States, both state and federal appellate courts are usually restricted to examining whether the lower court made the correct legal determinations, rather than hearing direct evidence and determining what the facts of the case were.[10] Furthermore, U.S. appellate courts are usually restricted to hearing appeals based on matters that were originally brought up before the trial court. Hence, such an appellate court will not consider an appellant's argument if it is based on a theory that is raised for the first time in the appeal.[11]

In most U.S. states, and in U.S. federal courts, parties before the court are allowed one appeal as of right. This means that a party who is unsatisfied with the outcome of a trial may bring an appeal to contest that outcome. However, appeals may be costly, and the appellate court must find an error on the part of the court below that justifies upsetting the verdict. Therefore, only a small proportion of trial court decisions result in appeals. Some appellate courts, particularly supreme courts, have the power of discretionary review, meaning that they can decide whether they will hear an appeal brought in a particular case.

Institutional titles

Many U.S. jurisdictions title their appellate court an court of appeal or court of appeals.[12] Historically, others have titled their appellate court a court of errors (or court of errors and appeals), on the premise that it was intended to correct errors made by lower courts. Examples of such courts include the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals (which existed from 1844 to 1947), the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors (which has been renamed the Connecticut Supreme Court), the Kentucky Court of Errors (renamed the Kentucky Supreme Court), and the Mississippi High Court of Errors and Appeals (since renamed the Supreme Court of Mississippi). In some jurisdictions, a court able to hear appeals is known as an appellate division.

The phrase "court of appeals" most often refers to intermediate appellate courts. However, the Maryland and New York systems are different. The Maryland Court of Appeals and the New York Court of Appeals are the highest appellate courts in those states. The New York Supreme Court is a trial court of general jurisdiction. Depending on the system, certain courts may serve as both trial courts and appellate courts, hearing appeals of decisions made by courts with more limited jurisdiction.

See also


  1. ^ "Court of appeals". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  2. ^ "Supreme Court". Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved October 26, 2012 from
  3. ^ "A Guide to Illinois Civil Appellate Procedure" (PDF). Appellate Lawyers Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 9, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  4. ^ State v. Randolph, 210 N.J. 330, 350 n.5 (2012), citing Mandel, New Jersey Appellate Practice (Gann Law Books 2012), chapter 28:2
  5. ^ "Bifurcated Appellate Review: The Texas Story of Two High Courts".
  6. ^ "Alabama Judicial System".
  7. ^ "About the Court of Criminal Appeals - Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts".
  8. ^ "Court of Appeal". Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "History of court system — Courts of New Zealand". Courts of New Zealand. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "Court Role and Structure". United States Courts. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  11. ^ "How Courts Work | Public Education". Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  12. ^ The term court of appeals is not capitalized in carefully edited texts such as reference works, for example West's Encyclopedia of American Law unless referring to a specific court or courts, but many legal professionals do not comply with this most common English usage shown in major dictionaries but rather capitalize this and many other legal texts.
  • Appeals courts are like second chances in the court systems
  • Lax, Jeffrey R. "Constructing Legal Rules on Appellate Courts." American Political Science Review 101.3 (2007): 591-604. Sociological Abstracts; Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. Web. 29 May 2012.
Appellate jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction is the power of an appellate court to review, amend and overrule decisions of a trial court or other lower tribunal. Most appellate jurisdiction is legislatively created, and may consist of appeals by leave of the appellate court or by right. Depending on the type of case and the decision below, appellate review primarily consists of: an entirely new hearing (a non trial de novo); a hearing where the appellate court gives deference to factual findings of the lower court; or review of particular legal rulings made by the lower court (an appeal on the record).

California courts of appeal

The California courts of appeal are the state intermediate appellate courts in the U.S. state of California. The state is geographically divided into six appellate districts. The courts of appeal form the largest state-level intermediate appellate court system in the United States, with 105 justices.

Connecticut Appellate Court

The Connecticut Appellate Court is the court of first appeals for all cases arising from the Connecticut Superior Courts. Its creation in 1983 required Connecticut's voters and legislature to amend the state's constitution. The court heard its first cases on October 4, 1983. The Appellate Court was also a partial successor to the former Appellate Session of the Superior Court, a court established to hear appeals in minor matters (e.g., misdemeanors and minor civil matters.)

Court of Appeal for Ontario

The Court of Appeal for Ontario (frequently referred to as the Ontario Court of Appeal or ONCA) is an appellate court in Ontario that is based at historic Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto.

Court of Appeal of Malaysia

The Court of Appeal is an appellate court of the judiciary system in Malaysia. It is the second highest court in the hierarchy below the Federal Court. This court was created in 1994 as part of reforms made to the judiciary to create a second tier appellate court after the Privy Council appeals to the United Kingdom was abolished in 1985. The court is headed by the President of the Court of Appeal of Malaysia, who is the second most senior post in Malaysian judiciary after the Chief Justice of Malaysia.

On 11 July 2018, Ahmad Maarop was sworn-in by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to replace Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who handed his resignation from the post following the 14th Malaysian general election.

Illinois Appellate Court

The Illinois Appellate Court is the court of first appeal for civil and criminal cases rising in the Illinois Circuit Courts. Three Illinois Appellate Court judges hear each case and the concurrence of two is necessary to render a decision. The Illinois Appellate Court will render its opinion in writing, in the form of a published opinion or an unpublished order. As of 1935, decisions of the Illinois Appellate Court became binding authority upon lower courts in Illinois.The Illinois Appellate Court has 52 judges serving five districts. The majority of the judges (18 in the First District, and between seven and nine in each of the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Districts) are elected, with the remaining judges having been appointed by the Supreme Court of Illinois.Civil cases appealed from the Illinois Appellate Court are heard by the Supreme Court of Illinois upon the grant of a Petition for Leave to Appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 315, a Certificate of Importance under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 316, or a Petition for Appeal as a Matter of Right under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 317. The same rules apply to criminal cases.

Indiana Court of Appeals

The Indiana Court of Appeals is the intermediate-level appellate court for the state of Indiana. It is the successor to the Indiana Appellate Court.

Judiciary of Pakistan

The judiciary of Pakistan (Urdu: پاکستان کی عدلیہ‎) is a hierarchical system with two classes of courts: the superior (or higher) judiciary and the subordinate (or lower) judiciary. The superior judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Federal Shariat Court and five High Courts, with the Supreme Court at the apex. There is a High Court for each of the four provinces as well as a High Court for the Islamabad Capital Territory. The Constitution of Pakistan entrusts the superior judiciary with the obligation to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. Neither the Supreme Court nor a High Court may exercise jurisdiction in relation to Tribal Areas, except otherwise provided for. The disputed regions of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan have separate court systems. Besides Supreme Court of Pakistan, there are areas that are not constitutional parts of Pakistan till now. They are Gilgit Baltistan and AJK. As per constitution of Pakistan, these both areas are not a part of Pakistan, rather they are being governed by Government of Pakistan on interim basis. Though Gilgit Baltistan declared its independence from Dogra/Maharaja Kashmir on 1 November 1948, that is said to be the independence day of Gilgit Baltistan. Likewise, the authority of Constitution of Pakistan is not held there, though through Presidential ordinances, and PM packages, they are governed and given an interim authority delegated by Federal Government of Pakistan.

As the Supreme Court of Pakistan doesn't have jurisdiction over Gilgit Baltistan, thus another form of APEX Court named Supreme Appellate Court for Gilgit Baltistan has been introduced, with designated powers as that of Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The subordinate judiciary consists of civil and criminal district courts, and numerous specialized courts covering banking, insurance, customs and excise, smuggling, drugs, terrorism, taxation, the environment, consumer protection, and corruption. The criminal courts were created under the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 and the civil courts were established by the West Pakistan Civil Court Ordinance 1964. There are also revenue courts that operate under the West Pakistan Land Revenue Act 1967. The government may also set up administrative courts and tribunals for exercising exclusive jurisdiction in specific matters.As of 2017, Pakistan’s judiciary is suffering from a backlog of two million cases, with lawsuits taking an average of nearly ten years to resolve. According to some estimates, 90% of civil cases involve land disputes, owing to Pakistan’s lack of a proper land register.

Kentucky Supreme Court

The Kentucky Supreme Court was created by a 1975 constitutional amendment and is the state supreme court of the U.S. state of Kentucky. Prior to that the Kentucky Court of Appeals was the only appellate court in Kentucky. The Kentucky Court of Appeals is now Kentucky's intermediate appellate court.

Criminal appeals involving a sentence of death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment of twenty years or more are heard directly by the Kentucky Supreme Court, bypassing the Kentucky Court of Appeals. All other cases are heard on a discretionary basis on appeal from the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The Kentucky Supreme Court promulgates the Rules of Court and Rules of Evidence. Through two of its subagencies, the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions (KYOBA) and Kentucky Bar Association (KBA), it is the final arbiter for bar admissions (KYOBA) and discipline (KBA).

In the event that two or more justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court recuse themselves from a case, the Governor of Kentucky appoints Special Justices to sit for that particular case.

The court meets in a courtroom located on the second floor of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. The second floor of the capitol building is also home to offices for the justices and Supreme Court personnel.

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), under the aegis of the Kentucky Supreme Court, serves as the administrative support agency for Kentucky courts and Circuit Court Clerks. The role of the AOC is similar to that of the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) for the Kentucky General Assembly.

Law of Illinois

The law of Illinois consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law and local law. The Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) form the general statutory law.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the state of Maine's judicial system. It is composed of seven justices, who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Maine Senate. From 1820 until 1839, justices served lifetime appointments with a mandatory retirement age of 70. Beginning in 1839, justices are appointed for seven-year terms, with no limit on the number of terms that they may serve.Known as the Law Court when sitting as an appellate court, the Supreme Court's other functions include hearing appeals of sentences longer than one year of incarceration, overseeing admission to the bar and the conduct of its members, and promulgating rules for all the state's courts.The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is one of the few state supreme courts in the United States authorized to issue advisory opinions, which it does upon request by the governor or legislature, as set out in the Maine Constitution.It is also unusual for a state's highest appellate court in that its primary location is not that of the state's capital city, Augusta, partially because the Kennebec County Courthouse did not have a courtroom large enough for the Supreme Court's proceedings. The court did meet there from 1830 until 1970, when it permanently moved to the Cumberland County Courthouse. The renovation of the Kennebec County Courthouse in 2015, which included expansion of the bench in its largest courtroom to permit all 7 MSJC justices to sit there, will allow the court to meet there at least twice a year. It will also continue to meet in Portland, Bangor, and at high schools around the state.The MSJC is also authorized to rule on the fitness of the Governor of Maine to serve in office, which it does upon the Maine Secretary of State certifying to the court that the governor is temporarily unable to carry out the duties of that office. The court must then hold a hearing and, if it agrees that the governor is unfit, declare the office of governor temporarily vacant and transfer its duties to the President of the Maine Senate, who would serve as acting governor. If the Secretary of State later certifies to the Supreme Court that the governor is fit to resume office, the court would then decide whether it agrees.

Māori Land Court

The Māori Land Court (Māori: Te Kōti Whenua Māori) is the specialist court in New Zealand that hears matters relating to Māori land.

The Māori Land Court was established in 1865 as the Native Land Court of New Zealand under the Native Lands Act. As outlined by Williams, "government policy from 1858 onwards ... sought to introduce a rapid individualisation of ancestral Maori land in order to ensure the availability of most of that land for settlement by Pakeha settlers". A continuation of the native land policies of 1862, the intention outlined in the Preamble of the 1865 Act was “to encourage the extinction of such [native] proprietary customs”. One means of fulfilling this intention was to limit to ten the number of owners able to be issued a Certificate of Title. Francis Fenton was the chief judge from 1865 to 1882.

The court caused major ructions within some iwi as the court gave a democratic power to ordinary Maori that previously had been the domain of chiefs only. Judges often heard weeks of oral evidence to prove a claim to the land. Judges were totally independent from the government and their decisions were binding on the government. Judges often made their own rules as points of law arose but the general principle was equity. One of the most dramatic cases was the claim of Ngati Mutanga for their previous land in North Taranaki in 1870. The entire iwi abandoned the Chatham Islands (which they had invaded in 1835) to come to the court hearing.The court encouraged Maori to sell land to private buyers. But the Crown remained the biggest purchaser. Most Maori-owned land was sold during the economic recession of the 1890s. 2.7 million acres was sold to the government and 400,000 acres to private individuals. The Native lands (Validation of Title) Act 1892 was passed by the Liberal government to stop any type of fraudulent deals and to give security of title to purchasers. The act guaranteed Maori a reasonable price for their land. The government on-sold most of its Maori land, often for a profit. The rationale behind the legislation was to unlock under-used land owned by Maori (and also pastoralists with vast landholdings) and sell it to "thrifty , hardworking industrious and independent hardworking individuals." The Liberals saw this as essential economic development. By 1939, almost 100 years after the treaty was signed, Maori retained just 1 percent of the South Island and 9 percent of the North Island. Land losses continued as the 20th century progressed, again supported by legislation.In 1954, the name was changed to the Māori Land Court. Originally the court was established to translate customary Māori land claims into legal land titles recognisable under English law. In 1993, the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act expanded the court's jurisdiction to allow it to hear cases on all matters related to Māori land.

Appeals from the Māori Land Court are heard by the Māori Appellate Court, which consists of a panel of three judges of the Māori Land Court. The Māori Land Court or the Māori Appellate Court may request an opinion on a matter of law from the High Court of New Zealand; such decisions are binding on the Māori Land Court. Appeals from the Māori Appellate Court, if permitted, lie with the Court of Appeal, and from there to the Supreme Court.

The court has no centralised courthouse but has a head office in Wellington and sits in various cities and towns in New Zealand as needed. The court maintains registries in Whangarei, Hamilton, Rotorua, Whanganui, Hastings, Gisborne, and Christchurch. It also has information offices in Auckland and Turangi.

Neil Hartigan

Neil F. Hartigan (born May 4, 1938) is an Illinois Democrat who has served as Illinois Attorney General, the 40th Lieutenant Governor, and a justice of the Illinois Appellate Court. Hartigan also was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1990 but lost the race to Republican Jim Edgar.

New trial

A new trial or retrial is a recurrence of a court case. Depending on the rules of the jurisdiction, a new trial may occur if:

a jury is unable to reach a verdict (see hung jury);

a trial court grants a party's motion for a new trial, usually on the grounds of a legal defect in the original trial; or

an appellate court reverses a judgment under circumstances requiring that the case be tried again.In some types of cases (for example, if the original trial court was not a court of record) or in some legal systems, if the losing party to a case appeals, then the appellate court itself will hold a new trial, known as a trial de novo.

In the United States, if a defendant is acquitted of a crime, the Fifth Amendment generally prohibits a retrial; thus, with few exceptions, a retrial only can occur if the verdict in the first trial was "guilty", or if there was no verdict. In other legal systems, the rules may be different. For example, in Canada, the Crown (prosecution) may seek leave to appeal an acquittal; if such an appeal is successful, a retrial may be ordered.

North Carolina Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the State of North Carolina is the state's highest appellate court. Until the creation of the North Carolina Court of Appeals in the 1960s, it was the state's only appellate court. The Supreme Court consists of six associate justices and one chief justice, although the number of justices has varied from time to time. The primary function of the Supreme Court is to decide questions of law that have arisen in the lower courts and before state administrative agencies.

Remand (court procedure)

The remand court procedure is used by higher courts to send cases back to lower courts for further action.

In the law of the United States, appellate courts remand cases to district courts for actions such as a new trial. Federal appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, have the power to "remand [a] cause and ... require such further proceedings to be had as may be just under the circumstances." This includes the power to make summary "grant, vacate and remand" or GVR orders.Appellate courts remand cases whose outcome they are unable to finally determine. For example, cases may be remanded when the appellate court decides that the trial judge committed a procedural error, excluded admissible evidence, or ruled improperly on a motion.

In common law jurisdictions, remand refers to the adjournment (continuance) of criminal proceedings, when the accused is either remanded in custody or on bail. Appellate courts are said to remit matters to lower courts for further consideration.

State court (United States)

In the United States, a state court has jurisdiction over disputes with some connection to a U.S. state. State courts handle the vast majority of civil and criminal cases in the United States; the much smaller in case load and personnel, United States federal courts, handle different types of cases.

Generally, state courts are common law courts, and apply their respective state laws and procedures to decide cases. They are organized pursuant to and apply the law in accordance with their state's constitution, state statutes, and binding decisions of courts in their state court hierarchy. Where applicable, they also apply federal law. Generally, a single judicial officer, usually called a judge, exercises original jurisdiction by presiding over contested criminal or civil actions which culminate in trials, although most matters stop short of reaching trial. The decisions of lower courts may be reviewed by a panel of a state court of appeals. Generally, there is also a highest court for appeals, a state supreme court, that oversees the court system. In matters that involve issues of federal law, the final decision of the state's highest court (including refusals to hear final appeals) may be appealed to the United States Supreme Court (which also has the discretion to refuse to hear them).

Sue E. Myerscough

Sue Ellen Myerscough (; born October 22, 1951) is a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois and a former justice on the Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court.

Vacated judgment

A vacated judgment makes a previous legal judgment legally void. A vacated judgment is usually the result of the judgment of an appellate court, which overturns, reverses, or sets aside the judgment of a lower court. An appellate court may also vacate its own decisions.

A trial court may have the power under certain circumstances, usually involving fraud or lack of jurisdiction over the parties to a case, to vacate its own judgments.

A vacated judgment may free the parties to civil litigation to re-litigate the issues subject to the vacated judgment.

Another means of having a vacated judgment would be if the defendant dies prior to all appeals being exhausted. Notable defendants having their convictions vacated under this include Kenneth Lay (the former Chairman/CEO of Enron who died before sentencing) and Aaron Hernandez (the former football player who committed suicide in jail before his appeals were exhausted).

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