What Are the Three Types of Appeals in Georgia?

What are the three types of appeals in Georgia? Unravel the complex world of Georgia’s legal system with our detailed guide. Learn more from legal experts.

Exploring the Different Types of Appeals in Georgia’s Judicial System

If you are involved in a legal dispute, you will likely need to settle it in a trial court. During the trial, you will present evidence to convince the trial judge or jury to decide in your favor. However, if you lose a trial, you may have the option to submit an appeal.

An appeal is a legal procedure of asking a higher court to reconsider the lower court’s (trial court) decision if you believe the judge’s ruling was incorrect.

Three types of appeals are commonly found in Georgia. These include direct appeals, interlocutory appeals, and discretionary appeals.

If you have grounds for an appeal and decide to file one, you must determine which appellate court has jurisdiction over your case and what type of appeal you seek. Read on as we answer some questions regarding these three types of appeals.

What Is a Direct Appeal?

A direct appeal is a legal process in which a higher court reviews a decision from a lower court. A party unsatisfied with the outcome of a trial or certain rulings made during the trial can file an appeal to have the decision reversed or reconsidered.

With a direct appeal, you essentially request the appellate court to:

  • Concur that errors were made, and
  • Order the lower court to offer you a “do-over.”

Direct appeals are typically filed “as a matter of right,” the first time, but subsequent appeals are generally discretionary.

Generally, a notice of direct appeal must be submitted to the trial court clerk within thirty days after the issuance of the final ruling.

What Is an Interlocutory Appeal?

The word interlocutory typically translates as “interrupt.” So, an interlocutory appeal is an appeal that can “interrupt” a court proceeding before its conclusion. This sort of appeal is ideal for challenging pre-trial court orders.

For instance, if a trial court issues an order against you before the trial commences and you have reason to believe the decision is crucial to the case. In that case, you may apply for an interlocutory appeal against the order at the appropriate appellate court.

What Is a Discretionary Appeal?

Unlike direct appeals, discretionary appeals are not submitted as a matter of right. Nor are they filed while the case is still pending in the lower court, as in the case of interlocutory appeals.

Discretionary appeals, instead, include appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court from a Georgia Court of Appeals decision. They need a petition to the proper appellate court and can only proceed if the petition is granted.

When Should You Consider an Appeal?

 

An appeal should be a carefully weighed decision, as it can be lengthy, complex, and expensive. Here are some scenarios where you might consider filing an appeal:

  1. Errors of Law: If you believe significant legal errors in your case affected the outcome, you might consider an appeal. These could be errors in the interpretation of the law, errors in the judge’s instructions to the jury, or an incorrect application of the law.
  2. Errors of Fact: If you believe the judge or jury made significant mistakes in interpreting or weighing the evidence, you might consider an appeal. However, these are usually harder to prove on appeal, as appellate courts often defer to the lower court’s factual findings unless there was a clear mistake.
  3. Abuse of Discretion: If you believe the judge made a decision that no reasonable person would have made, you might consider an appeal. This is often used when a judge’s decision is arbitrary, capricious, or whimsical.

For any legal disputes, it is essential to seek the services of a reputable attorney knowledgeable in appellate practice and procedures. At Strickland Webster, LLC, we have experienced federal appeals lawyers who can help you navigate the appeals process in Georgia. Contact us today for more information.

How Many Appellate Courts Are There in Georgia?

There are two appellate-level courts in the Georgia court system. They are the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.

The Georgia Court of Appeals serves as Georgia’s intermediate appellate court. It was founded in 1906 and has fifteen judges serving in five classes.

The Georgia Court of Appeals has appellate authority to review all criminal appeals and civil cases from all trial courts, such as the magistrate and other state courts. However, the Georgia Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction over constitutional queries, homicide, and habeas corpus cases.

For cases like this, the Georgia Supreme Court has initial appellate jurisdiction. The Georgia Court of Appeals can also refer law-related questions to the Supreme Court in such cases.

What Is the Appeals Process in the State of Georgia?

If you were found guilty in a criminal proceeding or jury trial, you have the automatic right to appeal, but only for a limited time. The deadline for filing an appeal or request for a new trial is generally thirty days after sentencing. Afterward, you may not be able to file an appeal.

The appealing party is the “appellant,” while the opposing party is the “respondent.”

If you file an appeal, the appeals judges will evaluate the trial court’s record to determine if a legal error altered the case’s outcome. Usually, the side appealing (the appellant) may seek the appellate court to determine if the following types of legal errors were made:

Prejudicial Errors

This error is a mistake in legal or court procedures that causes significant injury to the appellant. Prejudicial errors might include a judge’s mistaken interpretation of the law, improper jury instructions, and mistakes or misbehavior by the attorneys or the jury.

No Substantial Evidence

The appellant may seek the appellate court to evaluate if there was a lack of substantial evidence to support the trial court’s decision. Also, such judgment must have caused substantial injury to the appellant.

An appellate court is not a place for new trials. As such, the presiding appellate judges will not consider new shreds of evidence. Instead, the court will consider the facts and evidence presented at the lower court to see if any mistakes require correction.

The appeals procedure can last up to one year. However, some appeals may be expedited based on the nature of the lower court’s final judgment.

After all the proceedings have concluded, the appellate court will decide whether to reverse or affirm the lower court’s decision. It could also order a new trial if necessary. If there are no further appeals, the case is considered legally concluded. However, it should be noted that this process may vary depending on the type of appeal being filed and the case’s particular circumstances.

How Can an Attorney Help File an Appeal in Georgia?

Although it is possible to file your appeal in Georgia courts, consider taking legal advice from an appeal lawyer. First, you may need an attorney to show you have a valid justification for appealing your case.

Appeals and lawsuits are serious issues, and the court may impose costs on you if your appeal is not based on valid reasons. An attorney will examine the record from your initial trial and generate a list of potential grounds for appealing the case.

You may hire a different attorney than the one who represented you at your initial trial. A new attorney, particularly one with considerable appeals experience, can examine your case with fresh eyes and identify details that your former attorney may have overlooked.

Having a separate attorney handle your appeal may be especially critical if you believe your trial attorney was irresponsible or made significant mistakes. Your new appellate lawyer can then use those mistakes as grounds for your appeal and potentially help you obtain a more favorable outcome.

 

Contact an Experienced Appeal Attorney

For more inquiries or questions regarding the appellate court procedures in Georgia, you can speak with our attorneys at Strickland Webster, LLC. Our team of legal professionals has extensive experience handling appeals in Georgia courts and can provide you with the guidance and representation you need. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.