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Dismissal of Appeals

Both the plaintiff (the person suing) and the defendant (the person being sued) have a right to appeal to a higher court if they think there was a legal error in the trial. Generally, a notice of appeal has to be filed within 30 days after the trial court enters a judgment in the lawsuit.

Most states have a two-tier system for appellate review of a judgment. The federal court system also has two different levels of appellate review. The appeal is first filed in an intermediate appellate state court or a federal court of appeals. After the court of appeals reviews the judgment, a further appeal normally is possible to a court of last resort. The court of last resort in most states is called the supreme court. The federal court of last resort is the U.S. Supreme Court.

Voluntary Dismissals

Generally, the party filing an appeal has a right to voluntarily dismiss or withdraw the appeal before a decision is made in the case. In the federal courts, the parties to an appeal may agree to dismiss the appeal. If an appeal is voluntarily dismissed, the case is treated as though no appeal had been filed, and the trial court’s judgment becomes binding on the parties. Once a party has voluntarily dismissed an appeal, the party might not be able to reassert the appeal. The appeal cannot be reinstated unless a new notice of appeal is filed within the time period set by law.

Involuntary Dismissals

Generally, an appellate court should decide the merits of an appeal whenever possible rather than dismissing the appeal. However, an appellate court can dismiss an appeal if the party appealing fails to prosecute the appeal.

Also, an appellate court must dismiss an appeal if it lacks jurisdiction over the case. There are two types of jurisdiction–subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction means that the appellate court (and the trial court that heard the case) has authority to hear the particular type of case. Federal courts have authority to hear lawsuits involving the United States Constitution, federal laws, and treaties. They can also hear disputes between two states or cases involving citizens of two different states. Personal jurisdiction means that the court has jurisdiction over the defendant in the lawsuit. Generally, if a person lives within the state or if a company does business within the state, a state court will have power to decide a lawsuit involving that person or company. The personal jurisdiction of a federal court is usually parallel with the personal jurisdiction of the state courts where the federal court is located. Appeals that have been involuntarily dismissed cannot be reinstated.

Copyright 2015 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.


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