Practice in the Appellate Court is substantially different than trial practice and requires an additional set of skills. Appellate practice is not a new trial, offering a disappointed party the opportunity to re-try the case in hope of a different outcome. Instead, appellate practice is designed to permit the parties to address errors made in the trial court, such as the interpretation of the law to the facts in the case or errors such as rulings on evidence in the trial court or rulings that are incorrect as a matter of law, or to have the court address an issue that has not previously been decided in that jurisdiction. While most appeals are from the final order of the trial court, Supreme Court rules permit what are known as interlocutory appeals under certain circumstances, appealing a trial court ruling prior to the final determination by the trial court. A key issue to determine before filing any appeal is whether the order being appealed is appealable at that time.
In Appellate practice, attorneys must use a complex set of rules and procedure. The attorney works from a transcript of the trial court proceedings (or, if no transcript was maintained, what is known as a bystanders’ report). After selecting the significant issues meriting appeal, these issues are thoroughly researched and the issues are presented to the reviewing court. This step is completed through written briefs, which are written arguments following a statement of the pertinent facts and issues, citing authority from the law and referencing the trial court record for the arguments made, and then oral argument, in which each party has the opportunity to address a panel of Appellate Judges who will decide the case. New evidence is not presented, but during oral argument, the attorneys have the opportunity to make specific points that each believes supports their position, while, importantly, the judges have the opportunity to ask questions of the attorneys to make sure that the arguments are understood and the points clarified.
Attorneys practicing in this area must understand the Appellate Court’s complex rules and procedures, as failure to follow the rules and procedures may lead to dismissal of the appeal. At Benckendorf and Benckendorf P.C., we have experience in appeals in numerous areas of civil law, including business, banking, and probate cases.
Talk to one of the lawyers at Benckendorf & Benckendorf, P.C., about your potential appeal by contacting us online or by calling any of our central Illinois office locations to schedule an appointment.