Also known as the court of appeals, the appellate court is a court of law that has the power to hear an appeal from a lower court of trial and acts as an intermediary court in most jurisdictions. It sits in between a lower court and a high court or a court of last resort, the latter of which have the power to review the decisions of the appellate court and make amendments to the judgment.
Appellate Court Details
The appellate court has the power to review the decisions of a lower court. The amount of power bestowed upon the appellate court varies in different jurisdictions, and in some areas, these powers can be limited. You can only appeal cases from a lower court to an intermediate appellate court on sufficient legal grounds. A solid legal argument like an error in a trial is necessary for the losing party to appeal the verdict in the intermediate appellate court.
The power to appeal a case may vary based on the nature of the case. Both parties can appeal to a higher court in a civil case. However, in a criminal case, only the defendant has the right to appeal. After the judge and jury have reached a verdict, an appeal by the prosecution is not allowed in order to eliminate double jeopardy, which the United States Constitution prohibits.
An appeal is not a retrial of the case. An appeals court works with the same set of evidence and witnesses. The basis for an appeal to a higher court is that either party argues that there were errors in the trial procedure or the interpretation of the law.
Real-World Example of Appellate Court
In the United States of America, most states have an intermediary appellate court designed to review the decisions of a lower court. The power control and functions of appellate courts can vary based on the jurisdiction. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals acts as the court of last resort for all criminal cases in the Texas jurisdiction. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals is one of the two appellate courts in the Alabama state jurisdiction.
The Court of Appeal of New Zealand is the principal intermediary court in New Zealand's judicial system. It sits below the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
The Court of Appeal is the second-highest court in the legal system of England and Wales. It sits below the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Court of Appeal has separate criminal and civil divisions led by the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, respectively.
Significance of Appellate Court
An appellate or intermediary court works on the appeal brief filed by the appealing party, which we can also refer to as the petitioner or the appellant. The other party is the respondent or the appellee. The appeal procedure commences with a notice of appeal by the petitioner. After filing the notice, the petitioner and the respondent must submit a written brief to the appellate court.
The appellate court can decide based on the written briefs from the two parties or call for an oral argument session. In this session, each side's attorney has the opportunity to argue the case in front of the presiding judge. A decision is made based on the arguments and existing evidence of the case. The duration of such an oral argument session is usually one hour, during which each attorney has fifteen to thirty minutes to fight for their client.
The appellate court can alter the lower court's judgment if there are errors in the application of the law. Discrepancies in the evidence submitted to the court are reversible errors and can be sent for a retrial. However, no action is taken by the appellate court when the errors are harmless and have no bearing on the decision of the lower court.