When you get a bad outcome in a case, it is natural to say: “I will just appeal it.” But it is not always that simple and not always possible. This blog tries to give a brief overview of some initial considerations for when you could appeal a decision, and what is involved with an appeal.

When Can You Appeal?

Appealing a decision is not exactly like calling for a “do-over” when you were a kid. It is not enough to say “I don’t like the decision;” you need to have good legal arguments for why the trial court got it wrong and should have really found in your favor. On appeal, you will have to be able to argue to the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court that based on the information presented to the trial court, the judge made the wrong decision.


One important part to remember is that it is based on the information presented to the trial court. When you file an appeal, you cannot supply new evidence. You do not get to call new witnesses on appeal. You cannot submit any new documents. The appellate court can only look at the transcript of what happened in the lower court and the evidence presented at the lower court. Of course, if you tried to submit evidence or call a witness in the trial court and you were not permitted to do so – that is something you can potentially bring up on appeal. But you would not necessarily be able to argue what that new information is.

How to File an Appeal?

Appeals are very technical and have strict procedural requirements. Each jurisdiction (Nebraska, Iowa, federal court, etc.) has its own rules regarding what needs to be filed to submit an appeal. But, it is important to remember that there is a very short deadline (30 days in some states) to be able to file an appeal, or you will not be able to do so. Even if you were able to handle the trial court by yourself, it is highly advisable that you have an attorney to help with the appeal.


Depending on the jurisdiction, before that time is up, you may have to file a simple “notice of appeal” with the court. Or, some states may require that you submit a couple of other preliminary documents. If you do not file the right documents in the right time period, you will be unable to proceed. After the initial documents to start the appeal, then comes the hard work. The appeals court requires that each side submit one or more briefs, in which you have to refer to prior cases or statutes that would tend to show that you should have won. Those briefs must file a certain format and have certain sections in certain orders.


If you think the trial court got it wrong and you want to appeal, call the experienced attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, in our Omaha, Sioux City, and Sioux Falls offices right away to review your case.


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