How to Start an Appeal in California

Did you know that there must be a legal basis to appeal a court case? The parties to the case aren’t automatically able to file an appeal after a verdict is handed down; there has to be a clear legal basis for filing an appeal. 

If you’re interested in learning more about filing an appeal in California, here’s a quick overview.

What is an appeal?

Filing an appeal means you believe there was a legal or judicial error that negatively affected the outcome of your case. 

In California, you must be “aggrieved” in order to appeal. “Aggrieved” means that the decision made by the superior court or administrative agency affects your legal rights. For example, maybe you filed a wrongful termination suit against your employer, and the court upheld your firing and you want to appeal the verdict. 

It’s important to note that you cannot file an appeal on behalf of another person, like a spouse, friend, or family member. You may be able to file an appeal on behalf of a child if you are the child’s legal guardian. 

Are all cases eligible for appeal? 

Contrary to popular belief, not all cases are eligible for appeal. In addition, filing an appeal doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get a new trial. An appeal is filed because the appellant believes there were errors in the judge’s interpretation of the law or in the trial procedures, not because of new evidence or witnesses. 

In most cases, you can only appeal a final judgment or an order after a final judgment, but there can be exceptions to this rule. The court generally makes a final judgment at the conclusion of the trial. A final judgment could follow a jury trial, or it could be a ruling by a superior court judge ending the case. The plaintiff must be able to show that the court legally wronged them – if they are unable to do so, the court will dismiss the appeal.

How do you start an appeal in California?

The first step is securing an attorney with experience in California appellate cases. It’s crucial to work with a lawyer who can guide you through the intricacies of an appeal. 

The form that typically kicks off the appeals process is a Notice of Appeal. This document alerts the court that you intend to appeal the judgment, and it can be filed as soon as the superior court judge signs the order you are seeking to appeal and the court clerk stamps it. While there are some exceptions based on individual case circumstances, a Notice of Appeal in California must be filed within 60 days after the issuance of the judgment you are appealing. Your case will be dismissed if you don’t file a Notice to Appeal within that time frame. 

Once the Notice to Appeal has been filed, the appellant and their attorneys will create the “record on appeal,” which details the aspects of the trial being appealed. It usually includes the reporter’s transcript and the clerk’s transcript to paint a complete picture of the aspects of the trial that are in dispute. 

The appellant and the respondent have an opportunity to file a brief with the court outlining their claims and defenses. Some appeals are decided solely on the arguments included in the written briefs, while the court selects other cases for an oral argument. In an oral argument, attorneys for both the appellant and the respondent discuss the legal issues at the center of the appeal with a panel of judges.

In California, the case is designated as “submitted” after all briefs have been filed or the oral argument has taken place. The panel of judges will discuss the case and the legal issues driving the appeal, and will come to a conclusion on the outcome of the appeal. They will file their decision within 90 days after the end of the month in which the case was submitted.

Hiring an appeals attorney 

Remember – if you are interested in filing an appeal in California, you must take action within the designated time period, or you will lose your opportunity to appeal. Start the process by talking with an attorney specializing in California appeals cases. 

We have had considerable success getting relief from the Court of Appeal. 

 Most recently, in Tarrar Enterprises, Inc. vs. Associated Indemnity Corp. our firm (acting in association with another law firm) convinced the Court of Appeal that it was an error for the trial court to have dismissed our client’s claim for insurance proceeds without allowing leave to amend. 

In Patel v. Gwire, our firm was able to reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant’s attorney, as we also did in Fat Face Fenner’s Falloon v. Lurie, Zepeda, Schmalz & Hogan. 

We also secured a $700,000 appeals judgment in favor of our client after the California Court of Appeals upheld a Superior Court ruling. 

If you have questions about filing an appeal or are interested in starting the process, contact our team to discuss your options. 


The information contained herein is for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice

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