Florida State Level Appeals - FAQsIf you have received a negative outcome at trial, you might be considering filing an appeal in Florida state court. Florida appellate law is quite complex, and appeals at the state level require an experienced Florida appellate lawyer. Entering the appellate process can feel like you are entering into a whole other legal world. The rules are different as well as the legal processes involved. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions for Florida state appeals that will help you understand this unique process.

What are the Parties in an Appeal Called?
During the appeals process, the person who is appealing is called the petitioner or the appellant. The appellant can be the plaintiff from the original case or the defendant from the trial case. In other words, whoever is challenging the trial court’s ruling is the appellant.

Why Would I File an Appeal?
The party to a lawsuit who disagrees with a trial court judge’s ruling can appeal that ruling. During the appeal process, the appellate petitions a higher court to review the decision of the trial court. This process is called the appellate process or the appeals process. The Florida Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution, guarantees the right to an appeal.

How to Start an Appeal in Fort Lauderdale
The first step in filing an appeal is to hire an experienced Fort Lauderdale appeals lawyer who will advocate for your best interests. Your lawyer will file a “notice of appeal.” In the notice of appeal with the trial court. Doing so will allow you to initiate and pursue an appeal of the lower court decision.

What are the Time Limits for Appeals?
In most cases, the appellant has 30 days after the court’s decision to file a notice of appeal. Check with your lawyer to verify the exact timeline in your case.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Decision on My Appeal?
The appeals process is often extremely lengthy. Both lawyers will need to review all of the transcripts from the original trial or hearing and analyze those transcripts. Both lawyers need to prepare their arguments and the court will need to assign the appeal to a panel of three judges. The judges will then review the trial court record and the legal arguments prepared by the attorneys. Typically, there is no oral argument in the appeals process.

How Do I Know if I Can Appeal?
You will need to consider whether you have legal standing to appeal. You need to be a party to the proceeding at the trial court level. The trial court must have made a judgment in your case, and you need to have an appealable order from a trial court judge. Lower tribunals including administrative agencies and trial courts can issue a decision that the appellant can appeal.
You also need paperwork to substantiate the judgment. There might have been an error of fact, law, or procedure during your trial for you to have a successful appeal. Your Fort Lauderdale appeals lawyer will be able to review your case and advise you as to whether you have a valid claim for an appeal.

What Will the Appellate Court Judge Do?
The appeals court can affirm the decision of the lower court. In this case, the lower court’s decision will stand and remain law. Or, the appellate court might find that the lower court’s decision was erroneous. In this case, the appellate court will either reverse the lower court’s decision. Or, the court might reverse and remand the case to the lower court for more proceedings. In some cases, the appellate court will demand a retrial, or they can demand that the lower court address a specific issue.

Can a Florida Appellate Court Turn an Appeal Down?
Yes, a Florida appellate court can dismiss an appeal. But they can only dismiss an appeal if it is a non-appealable order. The Florida Supreme Court is the highest court in Florida and they have broad discretion to decide which cases they will and will not hear and accept. There are only a few narrow types of orders that the Florida Supreme Court must accept for review.

What is the Structure of the Florida Appellate System?
In Florida, the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure govern all appellate proceedings. The Florida court system has three different levels, two of which are appellate courts. Florida’s circuit courts and county courts are the trial courts. When a party decides to appeal a trial court decision, they will typically appeal with one of the five district courts of appeal. The district courts of appeal can be found in the following locations:

  • Tallahassee (First District Court of Appeal)
  • Lakeland (Second District Court of Appeal)
  • Miami (Third District Court of Appeal)
  • West Palm Beach (Fourth District Court of Appeal)
  • Daytona Beach (Fifth District Court of Appeal)

The final level of appeal belongs to the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has the right to review the final order of any trial court in Florida directly in limited circumstances. The Florida Supreme Court is the highest court in Florida and is in charge of making extremely important legal decisions in Florida.

What is an Appellate Lawyer?
An appellate lawyer focuses mostly, or exclusively, on appellate law. They have extensive knowledge of the Florida appeals process and they are skilled when it comes to legal research and writing. They need to have the skills to write effective appellate briefs. While trial lawyers are effective at trying the facts of a case in front of a jury, appellate lawyers are skilled at explaining why an appellate judge should affirm the decision of the lower court.

Contact Our Experienced Appellate Lawyers Today
Attorney Donna Greenspan Solomon is an experienced Fort Lauderdale appellate attorney. She is one of only a few attorneys who have received the Appellate Practice and Business Litigation certifications from the Florida bar. Contact Solomon Appeals, Mediation & Arbitration today to schedule your initial consultation.