Legal Services for Business
1125 Wheaton Oaks Court, Wheaton Illinois 60187
Phone (630) 588-1131, Fax (630) 682-1131

With limited resources and a growing caseload, no matter how good a judge may be - regardless of how much experience he or she may have or how well he or she may understand the law - it is always possible for a judge, like any of us, to make a mistake.  For this reason, the court system in the United States has always provided for at least one initial appeal from any legal errors there may have been in the final judgments of our trial courts.

Appeals are generally decided by a panel of three different judges whose consideration is focused on whether the trial judge made a legal error so important to the final decision in that court as to render it questionable whether that decision was itself in error.  Appellate courts do not weigh the evidence. They do not hear testimony or decide whose version of events should or should not be believed. What they do is consider the applicable law. They review written arguments from both sides as to what that law may be, they sometimes allow the attorneys to make oral presentations to the panel in support of those arguments, and then they decide whether the trial court made any mistakes in how the law was applied that would have any significant bearing on the propriety of the final decision.

We've argued cases in the state and federal courts (as well as before the appellate tribunals for a number of administrative agencies) and spent a number of years both teaching appellate advocacy to law students and writing on the subject (primarily in contributions to the Hon. John W. Cooley's Appellate Advocacy Manual). Links to a sampling of appellate court opinions and other decisions that may be of interest, in a sampling of the cases we've worked in, appear to the right of this column. If you have questions regarding the propriety of a particular appeal, please don't hesitate to contact us. But please also remember that, while there is likely to be at least one appeal allowed from a final judgment, the time within which that appeal must be pursued is usually very limited, sometimes just a matter of days or weeks.