An appeal is a motion written by an attorney that asks a higher court to review your case. The higher court is called an appellate court. The appellate court reviews the motion filed the attorney, and any responses filed by the other side.
Sometimes, the appellate court will ask for oral arguments to be made. This is a spoken presentation that an attorney will make in the court. It is very different from a trial in that the presentation is made directly to the appellate judges, no witnesses are presented, and the judges frequently pose questions for the attorneys.
Once the motions are submitted and the court has heard any oral arguments, it will take the case under advisement. At a later date, the court will issue a written opinion on the matter. The opinion is generally a lengthy report from the court reciting its understanding of the facts, the relevant law applicable in the case, an analysis of the law and the facts, and the ruling.
Unfavorable opinions can often be appealed to a higher court, such as the Supreme Court of a state and the United States Supreme Court.
The Colorado Court of Appeals is usually the first court that reviews cases from district courts, probate courts and juvenile courts. The decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals is final unless the Colorado Supreme Court agrees to review the case.
The Colorado Supreme Court is referred to as the “court of last resort” in Colorado’s state court system. This means that this is the last court to review a state case (unless the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear an additional appeal). The Colorado Supreme Court reviews cases from the Colorado Court of Appeals. On occasion, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear cases directly regarding a lower court’s decision.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is generally the first reviewing court for federal convictions. This court is based in Denver, and hears all federal appeals from federal courts located in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, and the portions of Yellowstone National Park that extend into Montana and Idaho.
The United States Supreme Court is the “court of last resort” for federal appeals. The Court is comprised of nine justices who generally restrict their review to cases involving a conflict of law in the United States Courts of Appeals. The Court is asked to review thousands of cases each year, and only agrees to examine a few.