Judicial Branch

Chapter 6
Appealing the Trial Court Decision to the Court of Appeals   

The losing side in that trial you just had can take their case to the next court above you and try to have the decision overturned. This is called taking the case “up.” It’s also called making an appeal. It’s kind of like taking an elevator up to the next level.

When you become a Court of Appeals judge, your job will be different. For one thing, there won’t be any trials. The Court of Appeals is only for cases that have already been through a trial and gotten a verdict.

Usually the losing side will be arguing that the verdict was wrong and you’ll have to decide whether a mistake was made in the trial court.

You won’t get to make a jury do all the work, either, because at the Court of Appeals there are no juries. But don’t worry—when you’re on the Court of Appeals, you’ll get to work in a team with other judges. Usually there will be three of you sitting at the bench listening to the lawyers.

Most of the time all three of you will agree how to decide the appeal. Sometimes, though, two of you will decide the appeal by majority vote, and the third judge will disagree with the majority. If so, we call that third judge a “dissenting judge.”

If you decide the trial court made the wrong decision, usually you will send the case back to the trial court to fix the mistake. If you decide the trial court was right, however, you will affirm the trial court’s decision by just leaving it alone.