Appellate Law

North Carolina has a multi-tiered court system. The first level is the trial court level, which is the starting point for most legal disputes and is where many cases begin and end. There are two other court levels, however, that can be utilized if a litigant does not receive a favorable result in the trial court. These courts are the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court.

North Carolina Court of Appeals

Every individual has a right to appeal any trial court decision to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. When a case is appealed, it starts a formalized process where the case is submitted to the North Carolina Court of Appeals for review by a number of Appellate Judges.

This process is governed by its own unique set of Rules of Appellate Procedure and involves both sides submitting written legal briefs in which they argue their respective positions on the case. In some cases, the Appellate Judges will want to hear oral arguments on the case. If that happens, the attorneys will be asked to come to Raleigh in order to argue the case in front of the assigned panel of three Appellate Judges.

Once this process has been completed, the Judges will reach a decision. The results of that decision can vary.  The Court of Appeals can uphold the ruling of the lower court, it can overturn that ruling, or it can uphold/overturn portions of the ruling and “remand” the case back to the trial court. If the Court of Appeals “remands” a case, it sends it back to the trial court in order for further findings to be made or to redo a portion of the proceedings again in the proper manner. This, for example, could be allowing a case to proceed that was initially dismissed on an improper procedural ground or ordering a new trial to be held so that evidence that was improperly ruled as inadmissible in the first trial can now be entered.

Appealing a case to the Court of Appeals is a method to ensure that the proper, legal decision was reached and may be a way for an individual to prevail when he or she was initially unsuccessful at the trial level. Appealing a case to the North Carolina Court of Appeals can be an expensive and time consuming process, however, so it is something that an individual should only consider doing after consulting with an attorney.

North Carolina Supreme Court

The North Carolina Supreme Court is the highest level of court in North Carolina. The Supreme Court hears cases that are appealed from the North Carolina Court of Appeals when litigants feel that the decision of the Appellate Court is incorrect.

Individuals do not have a right to be heard by the Supreme Court, they must petition the Supreme Court to hear their case. This is done via a “Petition for Certiorari,” which is a legal filing in which an individual asks the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Appellate Court and provides reasons why the individual believes a review is warranted. The Supreme Court reviews these petitions and makes a decision on whether to hear the case.

If the Supreme Court grants the petition and agrees to hear the case, the procedures are similar to those used by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Both sides submit legal briefs and, in certain cases, are asked to come to Raleigh and orally argue the case before the assigned Supreme Court Justices. Again, much like the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court can uphold the Appellate Court, overturn it, or remand the case all the way back down to the trial court for further proceedings.

Appealing a case to the Supreme Court is another method to ensure that the proper, legal decision was reached and may be a way for an individual to prevail when he or she has been ruled against by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Just like appealing a case to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, however, appealing a case to the North Carolina Supreme Court can be also an expensive and time consuming process. It is something that an individual should only consider doing after consulting with an attorney.

The Attorneys at Pope McMillan have taken many cases up on appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court. They have years of experience drafting persuasive legal briefs and have stood before the Judges and Justices in Raleigh on multiple occasions, arguing cases on behalf of their clients. Due to this experience, the Attorneys of Pope McMillan can help individuals examine the nature of their cases and help them determine whether it makes sense to appeal them. If you feel that the court has reached the wrong decision in your case, contact the Attorneys at Pope McMillan at 704-873-2131 or through this website to set up a consultation to see if it might make sense to attempt an appeal.