How to Appeal Your Case in Colorado: Part 1
Part 1: How to appeal your case in Colorado -or- “How do I get a mistake or wrong verdict corrected?”
Our legal system, with all its rules and procedures, is aimed to produce the right result. It is not perfect. Sometimes, a trial results in the wrong outcome.
If you find yourself in that situation, you have two options: (1) give up and accept the wrong outcome, or (2) file an appeal.
If you’re asking yourself what an appeal is, see my post discussing what appellate law is.
Put simply, an appeal is an argument to a second (appellate) court that the decision of the first (trial) court was wrong. The appeal usually has two stages, in this order: written arguments (or briefing) that are filed with the court, and oral arguments that occur months after the briefing. There are many ways in which a trial court may have been wrong. I discuss this in my post addressing factual and legal errors.
The appellate court in Colorado is usually the Colorado Court of Appeals. This court has 22 judges total. Three of those judges will hear your case. Those judges will determine, by a majority vote, who wins the appeal.
Before the judges make a decision, you or your attorney will have the opportunity to file a brief (i.e. a written document explaining to the appellate court why the trial court got it wrong) and, in most cases, an oral argument. At the oral argument, you or your attorney will present your arguments to the appellate court. Because the three judges hearing your case will have already read the briefings from both parties, oral arguments usually involve the judges asking the parties questions concerning their briefs or matters the judges feel should have been discussed in the briefing.
The three-judge panel will not issue an opinion (i.e. resolve the case) at the oral argument. Instead, the panel will spend time writing a decision and then release it when finished.
Learn more: Part 2