When parties wish to challenge the final ruling of a judge, the outcome after a jury trial, or certain other dispositions in both civil and criminal cases, under certain circumstances the party may pursue an appeal and/or a motion for new trial. Circumstances which commonly lead to an appeal include criminal jury trial convictions/verdicts, the Court’s entry of a Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce regarding property division or custody after a hearing or trial, or the award of a certain sum of money in a personal injury or other civil case following a bench trial before a judge or a judgment entered after a trial by jury.
The presiding judge may grant a new trial under the following circumstances: when the verdict of a jury is found contrary to evidence and the principles of justice and equity; where the verdict may be decidedly and strongly against the weight of the evidence even though there may appear to be some slight evidence in favor of the finding; when any material evidence may be illegally admitted or illegally withheld from the jury over the objection of the movant; when new material evidence is discovered by the applicant after the rendition of a verdict against him; when erroneous jury charges have been given or omitted over the distinct objection of a party; or in any other circumstance where the presiding judge may decide to grant a new trial after the exercise of sound legal discretion according to the common law and practice of the courts. When the presiding judge grants a new trial, the entire trial will occur again in the same court in which it originally took place.
On the other hand, when a party appeals from the judgment or jury verdict in a case, a higher court either reviews the case for error, or hears the entire matter again on the merits, which is referred to as a de novo investigation, where the whole record from the lower court and all competent evidence shall be admissible, whether adduced on the former trial or not. Importantly, an appeal will generally suspend, but not vacate, a judgment entered, so if the appeal is dismissed or withdrawn, the rights of all the parties shall be the same as if no appeal had been entered. Appeals generally must be filed within a certain time frame or the right to appeal is lost. For example, any appeals to the Superior Court must be filed within 30 days of the date of the judgment or order complained of was entered, and the notice of appeal must be filed with the court, agency, or other tribunal which issued the ruling.
Certain rules also govern which court hears an appeal from each particular court or tribunal, which is sometimes based upon the type of case appealed in addition to the type of originating court. For example, some Magistrate Court cases may be appealed to the State Court or the Superior Court, but almost all Probate Court matters must be appealed straight to the Superior Court. Moreover, from many lower court or tribunal matters, including many objections raised in Probate Court matters, the party must petition the Superior Court for a Writ of Certiorari through a specific process, rather than simply filing a notice of appeal. Similarly, certain appeals to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court must be made by application in the nature of a petition enumerating the errors to be urged on appeal and stating why the appellate court has jurisdiction. Although the time frames governing appeals and the procedures which must be followed are very technical and stringent, our attorneys are qualified to handle many different appellate matters and ensure that a client’s grievances are addressed in the higher courts.
If you believe you have grounds that a court decision was made in error, talk to one of our experienced attorneys, serving Canton, Cherokee County and the surrounding north Georgia area, contact Thompson, Meier & King today to setup an appointment to see if you have case to file an appeal.