Different Types of Appeals in the US Courts of Appeals

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Did you know that each term more than 10,000 appeals are filed with the Courts of Appeal? Anyone who has recently gone through a trial is eligible to appeal their case if they believe that an error occurred throughout the process of their court hearing. The appellant, or person seeking an appeal on their trial, typically seeks help from an appellate attorney. Appellate attorneys gather evidence from the original trial to try to find flaws in certain aspects of the case, including evidence denied that should have been permissible or unfair sentencing. Appeals attorneys present their case in an appellate court, where the process of the previous trial will be evaluated. Appellate courts do not actually re-examine evidence or testimony. There are three types of appeals that an appellate court hears:

  1. As of Right – This type of appeal is a basic liberty as outlined in the constitution of the United States, and in most states appellate courts are required to hear any appeals case coming directly from a trial from a lower court. While the appellant may be required to file a petition to appeal, it is usually understood that this is not so much a request, but rather notification that the case is being appealed. When the case goes to trial, an appellate attorney will present evidence of an unfair process of law in hopes of having the previous decision overturned. While as of right appeals must be heard by the appellate court, discretionary appeals do not.
  2. Writ of Certiorari – Writ of certiorari is a type of discretionary appeal, meaning the court can choose whether or not it will hear the case. These types of appeals are issued by the higher court systems, such as the state court of appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court, asking a lower court to send the case for review. A writ of certiorari is usually filed when the higher court believes the process by a lower court was unjust, or when the case is not as of right.
  3. Writ of Habeas Corpus – A writ of habeas corpus is issued by the court to demand that a person accused of a crime have their case reviewed. When a writ of habeas corpus is issued, a prisoner must be released to allow them to partake in the review process. Any prisoner has the right to file a writ of habeas corpus if they believe they are being held against their will, although an outside party could also make the request on behalf of the individual. If the court concludes the the prisoner is being unlawfully detained, then by order of the law they must be released.

The ability to file an appeal is often a celebrated right in our country, as is the right to fair representation in court when an individual can’t find an attorney on their own. Many feel comfort in the fact that the first decision is not necessarily the final decision, as they have the right to have their trial reviewed with the help of appellate lawyers.

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