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Appellate process

The two basic types of courts in the United States are trial courts and appellate courts. These two types of courts have two entirely different functions. The job of a trial courts is to determine questions of fact. Appeals courts, on the other hand, must determine questions of law. Appellate courts have the right to overrule jury verdicts and judges decisions due to the fact that an appellate court typically concerns itself solely with issues of law. An appeal is not the time to retry the case or to reargue the facts. In civil matters, either party can appeal the decision of the trial court. Usually in criminal matters, however, only the defendant may appeal a criminal conviction and the state is not allowed to appeal a not guilty verdict. The sentencing in criminal cases with a guilty verdict, however, may be appealed by either the defendant or by the prosecution (uscourts.gov, 23).Proceedings in appellate courts are very different from those in trial courts. Trial courts are courts in which witnesses are heard, exhibits are offered into evidence, and a verdict (in a jury trial) or a decision (when a case tried by a judge alone) is reached based on the facts presented in the case. A trial court has only one judge, appellate courts, with the exception of state supreme courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, have three. Most legal disputes involving state law are initially decided in the trial courts or by an administrative agency. But after such a decision, an individual may usually turn to the states appeal courts if he or she believes a legal error occurred that harmed the case (uscourts.gov, 23). Thousands of cases are appealed every year. They include criminal convictions as well as civil cases involving personal injury, contracts, employment, real estate, probate, divorce, child custody and many other issues (uscourts.gov, 10). Whenever an appellate court reverses a trial court decision, it instructs that court to rehear the...

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