Appellate Jurisdiction Details

Appellate jurisdiction applies to both civil and criminal law, where the party filing an appeal is known as the appellate, and the opposing party is called the appellee. An involved party can file an appeal as a matter of the appellee's right or upon the discretion of the appellate court. In the latter situation, the appellate is required to secure a writ of certiorari, or the order by which the appellate court reviews the appealed decision.

In the U.S. federal court system, district courts are covered by the appellate jurisdiction of circuit courts (courts with rotating jurisdiction within a judicial district), and circuit courts submit to the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme court. All of these courts follow the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure under Title 28 of the United States Code.

Each U.S. state follows its own court system. Although different in names, all of these state courts extend appellate jurisdiction of some form. They may also decide to distinguish between civil and criminal appellate jurisdictions.

Appellate Jurisdiction Real World Example

Antonio Estevez has been charged with the murder of his employer, Dan Simmons. Despite the objection of Ronald Wang, the public defender representing Estevez, the judge admits the defendant’s lie detector test result as evidence. The defense also attempts to bring in a witness, Jane Hardy, who will testify that Estevez was with her in another city during the time of Simmons’ murder. The judge refuses to hear the witness. The trial wraps up with a guilty verdict, and the judge sentences Estevez to life in prison.

Wang immediately prepares to appeal. While doing his research, Wang finds case precedent prohibiting the admission of polygraph test results in court. Wang can include this in the appeal but not the denied witness testimony. The appellate court has appellate jurisdiction to reverse the trial court’s improper overruling of Wang’s objection, but not to admit new evidence, or any evidence that has not been presented during the trial court hearings.

Significance of Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction is a necessary component of any sound and working justice system. It is the power by which court errors are corrected, and judgments remain married to facts and fair for all concerned. Anywhere in the world, court judgments are made with error. Appellate courts and jurisdictions eliminate such errors and mete out proper judgment.

Without appellate courts and their jurisdiction, innocent people will be sent to prison. Guilty parties can run free and escape their duty to pay for their legal transgressions. Monetary claimants with malicious intents will prosper, and those who have been legally disadvantaged will receive the compensation they actually deserve.

Through appellate jurisdiction, cases can be remanded for a new trial, a new dismissal, a new sentence, or a new money judgment as circumstances require. Ultimately, this helps ensure a healthier and better-functioning justice system, government, and society.