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Discussion on Appeals

Appeals may be a subject of some confusion for many Ohioans because they are not part of every case.   While people may have a general understanding of how a criminal case works up through trial, there are several things that can take place afterwards depending on the details of the case.  For example, some convictions and charges can be expunged, while other ones cannot (you can read all about Ohio expungement laws on our website).  Appeals are a separate process that only sometimes take place after the rest of the case is finished.  Generally, if you appeal a decision from a lower Court (such as a trial Court), you are asking an Appellate Court to review your case based on some specific error that you think was made in the trial Court.  The outcome may not always be favorable, and filing an appeal may not always be advisable.  It is important to note that this article cannot contain enough information to be the only source you use if you are considering filing an appeal.  If you are thinking of filing an appeal on a Court’s decision, you should consult your attorney (or talk to an attorney if you do not already have one).  However, this article can give some information about what appeals are, how the appeal process works in Ohio, and how the Appellate Courts are structured.


How the Appeal Process Works in Ohio

For an Appellate Court to get involved a decision must have already been made in a lower Court, oftentimes a trial Court.  In order for the decision to be appealed it must be some kind of final decision, and not something issued in the middle of a case. Whichever party disagrees with the trial judge’s decision may file an appeal with the Court of Appeals in the appropriate Appellate District.  Whether the filing party was a Plaintiff or a Defendant, once they file an appeal, the Appellate Court considers them an Appellant.  Then the Court of Appeals does their own research, and usually allows both sides to present oral arguments.  Ultimately, the Court of Appeals either agrees or disagrees with the Appellant.  If the Court of Appeals disagrees with the Appellant, they will normally issue a decision saying they disagree and the decision of the trial Court remains the decision (although they can sometimes hold that the appeal was frivolous).  If the Court of Appeals agrees with the Appellant, they may end the case in their own Court. If not, the case goes back to the trial Court.  The trial Court then has to make a decision taking into account the Appellate Court’s interpretation of the law.


What is a Court of Appeals?

The Court of Appeals is, as the name suggests, a Court that handles appeals for its respective set of counties.  This set of counties, as it applies to the appeal process, is called an Appellate District.  In Ohio, there are twelve Appellate Districts.  Every appeal must be filed with the Court of Appeals that handles cases from the counties in their respective Appellate district.  For example, Warren County is part of the Twelfth Appellate District in Ohio.  If a case from a Court in Warren County is appealed, the appeal will be handled by the Court of Appeals for the Twelfth Appellate District.  There are other counties in the Twelfth Appellate district, but some Appellate Districts only contain one large county.


Not every case needs to be appealed.  Sometimes a criminal case may have an outcome that the Defendant is happy with and sometimes all the parties agree on the initial outcome of civil cases.  Sometimes there are simply no grounds to appeal a case, and there could be other reasons why not to appeal.  As we stated at the beginning of the article, there are so many factors that can complicate any specific case.  However, appealing the decision may be the best thing to do in some cases.  If you are dealing with any kind of legal situation and you think you can use professional help, feel free to contact the law offices of Dearie, Fischer & Matthews.