How Do I Appeal a Verdict?

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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 03 March 2020
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To appeal a verdict, a person must be able to prove that the result of the trial was based on an error in the trial process. The first step is generally hiring a lawyer, preferably one who is experienced in appeals. Then, with the lawyer’s help, a person can file a notice of appeal to the appellate court, the court that deals with appeals. After that, the trial briefs should be put together and taken to appellate court on the specified date. The appellate judges — the judges who will oversee and decide the appeals trial — may then listen to the lawyer’s arguments and examine the case to make sure no substantial errors were made during the original trial.


Perhaps the first step to take when a person wants to appeal a verdict is to hire a lawyer. It is not a good idea for a person to represent himself because of the amount of expertise that is often necessary to win an appeal. The appellate judges will not examine the evidence and decide whether the defendant was innocent or guilty but will simply determine whether the trial was unfair or if there was some sort of error during the trial that could have altered the verdict. For this reason, a lawyer hired to appeal a verdict should be versed in this area of the law and should know which circumstances could cause the appellate judges to overturn the lower court’s ruling. The lawyer should also raise any such instances to the appellate court lest the court consider the right to appeal a verdict based on objections waived.

After retaining a good lawyer, a person wishing to appeal a verdict should then file a notice of appeal. This is a right for most defendants, but one that pled guilty may have to ask for permission before attempting to appeal. The notice of appeals has to be filed in the appropriate time frame. If this notice is filed late, the appellate court may dismiss the appeal. Once the notice is filed, a person should receive a date to appear before the appellate court and directions on when to file the trial briefs.

A trial brief is a set of documents that details the lawyer’s game plan to the judge — it describes any tactics, evidence, citations to applicable laws, and arguments that the lawyer plans to use during the trial. The party pursuing an appeal should also bring a transcript of the original trial as well as any evidence that was used during the trial. The appellate judges can then decide whether the trial court’s ruling should be upheld or repealed. If the appeal is successful, the defendant is allowed to have another trial.


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