Step 10: Appeals
In most cases, litigants seeking relief from adverse judgments do not bother with post-trial motions addressed to the same courts that handed them their losses. They go above the trial judge’s head to a higher authority -- the appellate court.
To appeal a case, a litigant must normally file a Notice of Appeal within thirty days after the entry of an adverse judgment or, if a post-trial motion was filed, within thirty days after the motion is decided. These deadlines are extremely important because litigants who file their written notices of appeal too early or too late will lose their right to appeal and face certain and final defeat.
As a practical matter, preserving the right to an appeal is as easy as filing the following notice:
324 Street Name
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NOTICE OF APPEAL
Notice is hereby given that Defendant Donald Defendant appeals to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland from the final judgment entered on November 1, 2009 by the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, in which judgment was entered in favor of Paula Plaintiff.
If the appeal is noted in a timely manner, parties may not use this process to try their case all over again. In most cases, appeals are heard "on the record" by the appellate court’s review of a transcript of the trial proceedings, briefs submitted by the attorneys, and oral arguments focusing on the law surrounding the case. On appeal, litigants must do much more than express disagreement with unfavorable verdicts. Instead, these appellants must show that the trial judge committed some type of legal error which produced these adverse results. If persuaded, the appellate court may reverse that judgment, remand the case for a new trial, or modify the judgment in some less drastic way in light of the applicable law. Otherwise, the judgment will be affirmed, thereby ending the litigation process.