The Appeals Process: New York State Courts

appealWhen you receive a result from a court of general jurisdiction in New York, called the Supreme Court, regardless of whether you win, lose, or are somewhere in between, it may not be the end of the litigation process. This is because when you are unhappy with a court ruling, there exists the possibility of pursuing in a higher court an appeal of that determination, which appeal may result in the Supreme Court decision being reversed in whole or in part. And, even when you are satisfied with a Supreme Court decision and have no intention of appealing, there is always the possibility that the other side will file appeals in an effort to have the appellate court undo the Supreme Court’s determination, thus requiring you to oppose the appeal.

Issues on Appeal

There are numerous issues that can be the basis for an appeal including, among many others, that the Supreme Court got the facts and/or the law wrong, misapplied the law, abused its discretion, or used the wrong standard of proof. Whether or not you have strong grounds for seeking or opposing an appeal is often a complex question and merits discussing your chances on an appeal with your attorney.

Keep the Same Lawyer or Time to Change Horses

Clients who have been victorious in the Supreme Court will often remain with the same lawyer in the event of an appeal. While clients who are dissatisfied with the Supreme Court result often consider seeking new legal counsel. New counsel has the benefit of a fresh set of eyes and potentially a more objective assessment of the pros and cons of pursuing an appeal. On the other hand, new counsel may add additional costs to an appeal because they must learn the case anew.

When an Appeal Can be Taken

In the New York State Court system appeals can be taken from what is referred to as interlocutory rulings. Such rulings are made by a court prior to a final judgment being rendered in the case. That is, interlocutory rulings do not settle all of the issues presented in the case. This means that, generally, most rulings by a Supreme Court can be the subject of an appeal even though the case in the Supreme Court has not yet been finally resolved and is ongoing. So, for example, decisions on motions to dismiss, discovery disputes, motions for summary judgment, and the like, can be immediately appealed. This is to be contrasted with the federal court system where, in general, appeals from interlocutory rulings are not permitted until there is a final resolution of the underlying case.

What’s Involved in the Appeal

To initiate an appeal the party seeking to appeal – the Appellant – files, among other things, a Notice of Appeal. Once this is done, the party seeking to appeal must then file within a certain period of time the “Record,” which consists of all of the papers that were considered by the Supreme Court when it rendered its decision. In the case of an appeal from a decision which considered live testimony, the Record would also include a transcript of the court proceedings.  In addition to filing the Record, the appellant must file a Legal Brief which sets forth all of the legal and factual arguments that are being relied upon in support of the appeal. Once the Appellant has filed the Record and its Brief, the other party has an opportunity to file its Legal Brief setting forth the legal and factual arguments as to why the appeal should be denied and the lower court decision upheld. The Appellant is then permitted to file a responsive Brief addressing the arguments raised by the party opposing the appeal.

Many types of appeals, but not all, may be orally argued before the appellate court, referred to as the Appellate Division, at which time legal counsel for the parties have an opportunity to emphasize the issues they consider to be most germane to the appeal and to otherwise respond to any questions the judges hearing the appeal may have. Typically, an appeal is considered by a panel consisting of five judges. The appellate court will consider the Record, the parties’ Legal Briefs and any oral argument in rendering a decision.

How the Appellate Court Might Rule

The decision from the appellate court can, among other things, uphold or reverse the Supreme Court decision in its entirety, modify the decision, uphold some but not all of the Supreme Court decision, or send the Supreme Court decision back to the Supreme Court with instructions for further proceedings.

Further Appeals

In some, but not all circumstances, decisions rendered by the Appellate Division can be appealed further – to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals

The Lawyers at Kravet & Vogel are Here to Assist You

Whether you are considering filing an appeal from an adverse decision or opposing your adversary’s appeal, the knowledgeable and experienced business lawyers at Kravet & Vogel can assist you in analyzing the issues, advise you on what to expect, and counsel you on how best to achieve your goals.