Home » Blog » What Happens in a Lawsuit?-Part 4-The Appeal

After a trial and one side has lost, the losing party may decide to appeal the judgment to the court of appeals.  The decision as to whether to appeal is made based on several issues.  The losing party would look back at the trial to determine whether the judge made any significant errors in the admission or exclusion of evidence; the other legal rulings the judge made regarding the conduct of the trial; whether the decision of the jury is supported by legally sufficient evidence; whether any errors were made in the submission on the charge and questions to the jury; whether the jury made any errors in answering the questions;  and legal issues surrounding the plaintiff’s cause of action as to whether it should even have been brought under the law and case precedents.  Rulings of a judge in the trial and earlier in the suit are subject to the examination of the court of appeals as to whether they were correct.  The court of appeals examines these rulings when brought before them in an appeal.  The appeal has many technical aspects, which I will not go into; however, a notice of appeal is given.  Then, the appealing party, called the appellant, will file a document called a brief.  The brief is composed of the legal arguments of the appellant as to why the appellate court should reverse the case and send it back for another trial or render a judgment that the other side loses the case.  The other side, the appellee,  also files a brief arguing that the court should uphold the judgment of the trial court.  The entire appeal is decided based on the written record of the trial transcribed by the court reporter and the documentary evidence admitted at trial.  Also, the lawyers for the two sides will normally attend an oral argument before the court, which is  composed of  3 judges.  After the judges hear the arguments and read the briefs, they will write an opinion either reversing the case or affirming it.  This written opinion is then printed and put into the reporter system and these cases create precedents for later cases to use as authority for the appeals before them.  These cases are read by lawyers to determine what the law is in an area based on the court’s opinion construing the law and the facts of the case.  After the court of appeals rules, then either side may appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court; however, the Supreme Court does not have to accept the case.  If the case is not accepted by the Texas Supreme Court, the court of appeals’ opinion stands and it becomes the law of the case.  If the Texas Supreme Court accepts the case, the process of the filing of briefs and arguments before the court is repeated.  The Supreme Court’s ruling will become the final ruling on the case and the only appeal above  would be to the U.S. Supreme Court, if the matter involved a federal question or constitutional issue. Very few cases are ever appealed to or accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court.