Bringing your dispute to court was probably not your first choice. Whether you were facing a construction dispute, a business matter or any other type of civil claim, you likely devoted considerable time and money to building your case and presenting your side to the judge or jury.
If the ruling of the Illinois court was not what you hoped or expected, you may feel frustrated and confused. However, you may not be out of options just yet. Depending on the circumstances, you may have cause to appeal the ruling.
Different from a trial
Appealing a civil judgement is not something you do just because you disagree with the outcome. Additionally, an appeal is not simply a re-trying of your case. You will not present new evidence or call new witnesses. Instead, appellate courts consider cases where errors may have occurred during the trial. These errors must be significant enough to affect the outcome of the case.
If your case goes to the appellate court, you will find many differences between this phase and the trial you just completed. There is no jury. Instead, a panel of judges will review your case. This may involve your attorney presenting an oral argument or simply submitting an appellate brief. The only evidence the appellate court will review is the record of your trial and your attorney’s appellate brief.
What is an appellate brief?
Your attorney will prepare a document that outlines the errors that may have occurred during your trial. This may involve the inclusion of evidence that the judge should not have allowed, such as any evidence that investigators obtained illegally or without following the laws of discovery. The court may have misinterpreted a legal precedent on which your opponent based his or her case. Whatever error is the basis of your appeal, your attorney must spell it out in the brief.
The appellate brief must be concise, thorough and convincing. It must highlight case law to support your cause. Your opponent’s attorney will also file a brief defending the outcome of the case. It takes specific skills to write a persuasive appellate brief, so you will want to seek out an attorney with experience in the appeals process. These briefs, along with the court record from your trial, will form the case for your appeal.