What is an appeal? It is important to understand that an appeal is NOT a new trial. An appeal is a request for a review by a different court than the one which heard your trial/administrative hearing. The court that hears your appeal is known as a "higher court," an "appellate court," and/or a "reviewing court."
The court that hears your appeal depends on the type of case you are appealing.
If your appeal is being made to the Superior Court Appellate Division, it is important to understand the appeal is NOT a new trial, and that the appellate division will not consider new evidence, such as the testimony of new witnesses or new exhibits. The appellate division's job is to review a record of what happened in the trial court and the trial court's decision to see if certain kinds of legal errors were made in the case. The appellate division generally will NOT overturn the judgment, order, or other decision being appealed UNLESS the record clearly shows that one of these legal errors was made:
- Prejudicial error: The party that appeals (called the "appellant") may ask the appellate division to determine if an error was made about either the law or court procedures in the case that caused substantial harm to the appellant (this is called "prejudicial error"). Prejudicial error can include things like errors made by the judge about the law or errors or misconduct by the lawyers that harmed the appellant. When it conducts its review, the appellate division presumes that the judgment, order, or other decision being appealed is correct. It is the responsibility of the appellant to show the appellate division that an error was made and that the error was harmful.
- No substantial evidence: The appellant may also ask the appellate division to determine if there was substantial evidence supporting the judgment, order, or other decision being appealed. When it conducts its review, the appellate division only looks to see if there was evidence that reasonably supports the decision. The appellate division generally will NOT reconsider the trial court's conclusion about which side had more or stronger evidence or whether witnesses were telling the truth or lying.