Deciding on an Appeal
Deciding the merits of an appeal is best done with the advice and expertise of an appellate attorney. However, clients have the ultimate "say" in determining whether or not they will appeal a case. Therefore, it is important that you become educated about the appeals process and make an informed decision.
So what is an appeal?
An appeal is basically the process of asking a higher court to reverse the decision of a trial court after a final judgment or ruling. An appeal is not a retrial of a case, but is merely a re-examination of the original evidence presented to the trial court.
Typically, reversals occur when (1) the court made a serious error of law and/or (2) the trial verdict was against the weight of the evidence. Small errors that are unlikely to have substantially impacted the court's judgment are not an adequate basis for the reversal of a lower court's judgment.
Factors to consider when deciding on an appeal
When deciding whether or not to appeal a case, there are many factors to consider:
- Merits of the appeal – The first thing to consider is the merit of your appeal. Is your case winnable? In deciding the merits of your case, you may wish to consult an attorney who was not involved in the original case for a more impartial viewpoint. Incorrect rulings, erroneous admissions of evidence, incorrect interpretations of the law, or insufficient evidence in support of the court's decision are all potential grounds for an appeal.
- Monetary cost – The appeals process can be a time-consuming, drawn-out, expensive process. Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who is familiar with the laws affecting Minnesota divorce and family law appellate matters is vital in winning complex appeals cases, yet attorney expertise does not come cheaply. Certainly there are many instances when the case outcome and life-changing effects are well worth the monetary investment, but you should engage in an honest cost/benefit analysis before making the decision to move forward.
- Personal cost – Not only are appeals expensive, but they are time-consuming and often emotionally draining. Successful appeals require determination, perseverance and patience.
- Outcome – Despite the monetary and personal costs of pursuing an appeal, the potential outcome often outweighs the sacrifice. If you feel that you simply can't live with the court's decision and believe your case has merit, an appeal may be right for you.
A careful cost-benefit analysis may help you decide whether or not an appeal is right for you. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you with your specific appeal case needs.