You have been through a daunting trial in civil court in Florida. Unfortunately, you lost your case. Now you are hoping to appeal your case and win. Appealing your case gives you an additional opportunity to win in court. Knowing when to appeal and the risks involved with appealing is important. It is also wise to understand the possible outcomes of your appeal. The appellate court may affirm the lower court’s decision. The best outcome for you is that the appellate court agrees with your arguments and reverses the lower court’s decision. In that case, what happens after you win an appeal in Florida?
Florida’s Appeals ProcessFirst, we will provide an overview of Florida’s appellate process. Before you appeal, you will need a final, appealable issue from one of Florida’s trial courts. Either the jury needs to have given a verdict, or the judge needs to have issued a final decision. The losing party can file a notice of appeal in the district court of appeal in their jurisdiction. The appealing party must take the following steps:
- Obtain the record of the circuit court trial, including filings and transcripts
- Write an appellate brief that outlines why he or she is appealing and why the appellate court should reverse the case
- Make oral arguments in front of the district court of appeals judges
- Obtain the court’s decision
If you win on appeal, you may think your case is over and done. However, your case may not be over. You will need an experienced appellate lawyer to guide you through the remand and rehearing process and ensure your rights are protected.
The Court Can Reverse the Lower Court’s RulingIf the district court of appeal agrees with you and reverses the trial court’s decision, it will issue a final decision stating why the trial court ruling was incorrect. With the mandate from the appellate court, the district court’s decision becomes final. The mandate will include directions to the trial court judge about what action the court should take next. Appellate courts cannot make decisions on the facts of the case presented at the trial court level. They are limited to reviewing issues of law. They cannot change the outcome of the trial court by reversing the trial court judge’s decision.
The appellate mandate will state that the case is “reversed and remanded for a new trial.” When the appellate court reverses and remands a case, the trial court must take action. The trial courts will not conduct an entirely new trial. Instead, the trial court’s role is limited to a bang the directions in the appellate court’s order. The trial court cannot modify or alter the appellate order in any way and must comply with the mandate.
The mandate from the appellate court will state which error or errors the trial court made. Specifically, they will state why the trial judge was wrong and instruct the trial court on how to apply the law or facts in the rehearing. The appellate court sends the case back to the trial court to fix the problem and make a new decision on the issue.
The issue or issues wrongly decided the first time will be reheard or re-tried by the trial court judge. When the trial court judge re-hears the specific issues mentioned in the mandate, he or she must follow the appellate court’s instructions. Essentially you will have a miniature trial on the specific issues brought to attention by the appellate court. After this new trial, the judge will decide on the issues. You can request a new judge to oversee the remand if you have not already exercised your peremptory right to a change of judge.
Motion for RehearingThe party that loses on appeal has the right to file a motion for rehearing. When a party believes that the appellate court misapprehended or overlooked the facts or the law, they can file a motion for rehearing or clarification. The losing party must file the motion for rehearing within 15 days of the appellate court’s final order stating that they lost.
As the winning party, you will need to respond to the motion for rehearing within 10 days. The appellate court does not favor motions for rehearing, and they typically do not grant these motions. Additionally, the appellate court does grant the motion for rehearing, the losing party will not be able to reargue their case. They will only be able to present very narrow issues for the court to review.
The Losing Party Can Appeal to the Florida Supreme CourtIf you win at the district court of appeal level, your case will probably be over. However, the losing party may have a right to file an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court does not automatically take cases for review like the district courts of appeal. Instead, they only accept cases that will develop public policy, shape law, and correct misgivings of justice.
Specifically, the Florida Supreme Court must hear cases involving the public and the death penalty, but it can choose to hear other types of cases. The Florida Supreme Court typically only hears an average of 200 cases per year. It is rare for the Florida Supreme Court to take cases on appeal, but it is possible.
Consult With a Florida Appellate Lawyer TodayHandling an appellate case requires unique skills. Are you an attorney representing a client in an appellate case? Do you feel like you are in over your head? If so, you may have questions about the appellate process and benefit from the assistance of another lawyer. Attorney Donna Solomon of Solomon Appeals, Mediation & Arbitration is here to help. She is an award-winning appellate lawyer with extensive experience. She offers consultative services to other Florida attorneys. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.