Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.
Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.

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877-508-0433Good People Deserve Good Lawyers. ®

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How do the standards of review affect appeals?

You lost your case in a U.S. District Court in Nevada, but that does not necessarily mean it is time to give up. The appellate court system is set up to ensure that federal law has been followed. If any errors were made during your trial, you may have another chance at a fair outcome. The results generally depend heavily on what standard of review applies to your appeal.

According to the Georgetown University Law Center, the appellate court will use different standards for reviewing your case based on what kind of error you are claiming was made in the trial court. The two basic standards involve the abuse of discretion and clear error.

Abuse of discretion

Arguing that the trial court judge abused his or her discretion when making decisions that affected your case may be difficult. Because that judge presided over your trial, and the appellate judges did not, they assume that he or she was in a better position to understand the facts and make a proper judgment call. On the other hand, arguing that the judge exercised discretion in a place where it was not warranted constitutes a legal error argument, which may be easier to prove.

Clear error

Making a claim that there was an error in questions of fact may also be difficult. Again, the appellate judges are reviewing arguments and evidence from your case that the original judge or jury witnessed firsthand. The mistake must be very obvious for this type of appeal to succeed. 

Often, it can be difficult for the court to determine which standards to use because cases frequently may have a combination of elements of legal, discretionary and factual errors. Every case is unique, and these considerations may be interpreted in a variety of ways by attorneys and judges. Therefore, this general information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

John P. Aldrich
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