Appeal of State Court Decisions
Review of State Trial Court Cases
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What is an Appeal in the State Court System?
The state appellate court reviews trial court cases to determine whether the law was applied correctly at trial or to determine whether the law as applied is Constitutional.
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What is the Process for Appeal in the State Court System?
The appellate procedure in state court is similar to that of the federal system.
The state court may defer a decision on an issue for appeal.
Also, a losing party may request an appeal based upon an error of procedural or substantive law.
Decisions from the trial court go to the intermediate court of appeals unless the state does not have an intermediate court of appeals or state statute requires appeal directly to the state supreme court.
Discussion: Do you think that state trial court decisions should ever be allowed to be appealed to a federal district court or a federal circuit court? Are there any good arguments for or against this hypothetical appellate process?
- Many would argue that principles of federalism require a separation between state and federal appellate systems, except when a state supreme court's decision is reviewed by SCOTUS. Others would argue that the federal system should serve as an immediate check on state courts. That is, one should be able to appeal a seemingly erroneous state court decision to the federal trial or appeals court.
Practice Question: Wallace is charged with the misdemeanor crime of public intoxication. He contends that he is not guilty, as his intoxication was from a prescribed medicine and was not voluntary. The prosecutor brings the case in an intermediate trial court of limited jurisdiction that does not allow for a jury trial. Wallace is aware that he can ask for a jury trial and the case will be removed to the state's superior court. He decides to proceed to trial in the court of limited jurisdiction. Ultimately he is convicted and ordered to pay a fine. Wallace believes that he would have prevailed in the case if there had been a jury. What are Wallace's options at this point?
- Wallace could appeal the court's decision to the court of appeals. The appellate procedure will be lined out under the local state's law. Having voluntarily foregone the option for a jury trial does not necessarily amount to a ground for appeal.