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Litigation and Appeals

Litigation and appeals can be overwhelming and daunting. It's filled with legal documents and steps that may differ from one case to another. The articles on this page will give you a comprehensive understanding of this legal process. You'll gain critical insights and essential information, helping you make informed decisions in each phase of your legal journey. Whether you're facing a criminal charge or a civil dispute, seeking appeals of a court order, or looking to understand the process of filing an appeal, these sources help give you clarity and guidance.

Types of Legal Cases

There are generally two types of cases. Criminal cases concern charges prosecuted by a governmental body. It seeks punishment for violation of criminal law, often leading to a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

Civil cases concern private individual disputes where the plaintiff requests damages or other remedies.

What Is Litigation?

Litigation is bringing a court case to court to settle a dispute. The term describes the legal process where parties argue their case against each other in our court system.

Parties involved in a case are called litigants. Litigants, separated into plaintiffs and defendants, utilize the discovery process and other court procedures to build their case before trying it before a court judge or jury.

The Litigation Process: From Filing to Trial

The United States court system has various layers, including the trial courts, lower courts, appellate courts, and the highest court.

Before filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff often demands that the defendant perform specific actions to resolve the conflict. The plaintiff may start a lawsuit if the defendant ignores or refuses the demand.

The plaintiff may then file a complaint in court. The plaintiff serves a complaint and a summons on the defendant. The complaint outlines the legal and factual basis of the legal dispute. It contains statements of fact, legal claims, and causes of action.

Discovery Process

The discovery process starts if the case doesn't settle early on. The parties send each other written questions, looking for information about the dispute. The parties may depose or interview each other under oath concerning the issues.

The parties may request copies of documents for review or ask to test or examine different types of physical evidence. Depending on the complexity of the case and the level of cooperation between the parties, the discovery process can last weeks or years.

Trial and Legal Arguments

After the discovery process, the case moves on to the trial phase. Both parties present legal arguments and evidence before the judge or the jury in a jury trial. The parties examine the case's facts and analyze the involved legal issues. The legal principles and court rules are likewise applied.

Appeals to the Higher Courts

After a trial court decision, the losing party may appeal from the lower court to the higher court within a specified time. In the hierarchy of the judicial branch, the order of the trial court or district court can be appealed to the court of appeals.

For instance, the court of appeals reviews state court records and checks for legal errors that may have affected the case outcome. In the appeal process, the court decides based on the written briefs. In some instances, appellate courts also hear oral arguments before deciding a case.

The losing party can take the lower court's final decision to a superior court, such as the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States judicial system. It reviews the court order of the lower court in cases over which they have original jurisdiction. The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction on cases related to the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

Seek Legal Help

Being involved in litigation or appeals can be daunting, but you don't have to face the trial process alone. There are litigation and appeal lawyers who can give you the guidance and support needed to manage your case. An experienced general litigation and appeals attorney can assist you in many different types of cases, such as:

FindLaw's directory of litigation and appeals lawyers will help you find the right attorney for your needs.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney to help you with any potential litigation challenges.

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