What are civil trials and civil appeals?

Readers who have been following our blog have likely heard the terms trial and appeal in some of the posts. For readers who are browsing through posts and those who find themselves in facing circumstances similar to those they read, knowing how an appeal differs from a trial might make understanding what is going on a lot easier.

What happens during a trial?

During a trial, the plaintiff and the legal counsel for the plaintiff present their case against the defendant. The defendant and the defendant's legal counsel then have a chance to refute any claims made by the plaintiff. Throughout the trial, evidence, testimony, photographs, documents, blueprints and other information might be presented to the court.

In a jury trial, the judge presides over the case, and the jury decides the ultimate outcome of the case. In a bench trial, the judge presides over the case and decides the ultimate outcome of the case. If either the plaintiff or defendant doesn't feel the ultimate outcome of the trial is fair or correct, they might choose to appeal.

What happens during an appeal?

An appeal is simply a review of how the previous court interpreted or applied the law. The appeals court reviews the information, such as transcripts and motions, from the previous court; however, this is done without any evidence being presented to the appeals court. Instead of presenting evidence like a trial, each side has to file an appellate brief, which outlines the argument for or against the appeal.

Where one judge presides over a trial, several judges sit on an appeals court panel. If the losing party doesn't agree with the appellate court's decision, they have the right to file a civil appeal to either the state supreme court, such as the Oregon Supreme Court, or to the federal supreme court, which is the United States Supreme Court.

Going through trials and appeals can prove to be rather complex. Knowing the law and how to react to various situations in the courtroom and other proceedings is vital to ensuring your rights are protected.

Source: FindLaw, "Appealing a Court Decision or Judgment" Aug. 23, 2014

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