This case has gone on for a year and two weeks ago after taking a week to decide the judge ruled in my favor. However now I hear the guy who sued me might appeal. I am worried because I have exhausted all my money in defending myself the first time. My question is what are the chances that he wins? He sued me for a breach of contract even though he admitted in court that he lied and that led me into entering into the contract. Some people said it was a 50/50 case. Can the appeal judge overturn a judge who took a long time to come up with a well thought out decision?
Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
Trial court judgments are generally presumed to be correct. Statistically, around 20% of civil judgments are reversed on appeal, but of course, the probability in each case will depend on the merits of the appeal brought. In order for Plaintiff to have the trial court judgment reversed, the Plaintiff will have to timely give notice of appeal and present the court of appeal with arguments and records showing the trial court committed prejudicial error. You probably should not be "worried" about Plaintiff's threats of appeal, but should be mindful of any steps steps taken by Plaintiff so you can timely and properly respond to each. Be sure to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.
Appeals are not decided on chances but on the merits of the legal issues involved. The more the trial court's decision in your case was based on the judge's evaluation of the facts and on issues of credibility the harder it will be to overcome on appeal. The more the judge's ruling was based on purely legal grounds the more even the issues on appeal will tend to be. This is because a court of appeals gives great, almost conclusive, deference to a trial judge's findings of fact and credibility, but decides legal issues "de novo" meaning, essentially, on a clean slate. The unsuccessful party has a right to appeal no matter what you may think of the merits of the case. You, as the prevailing party in the trial court, have some definite advantages and the party appealing the judge's decision has, always, an uphill fight. But can the court of appeals "overturn a judge who took a long time to come up with a well thought-out decision"? Absolutely yes, it can and it may. The complexity of the case itself may invite careful appellate scrutiny. Alas, money is an issue. An appeal is expensive for both sides, and that is the primary reason that more cases are not appealed.
Most judgments are affirmed on appeal; but many are reversed. There is no "one size fits all" answer to the risk of reversal; every case must be assessed on its merits. You do not specify whether the "people" who told you that the odds are 50/50 are attorneys or in particular, attorneys who practice appellate law. In my experience, most non-attorneys (and some attorneys!) have little understanding of what the purpose of an appeal really is.
You will need to respond to the appeal in order to protect your interests, and if your trial attorney has little or no appellate experience, you are well advised to consult with an appellate specialist. The cost of defending an appeal varies with the size of the record (length of trial) and the number of issues and their complexity. But in most case the fees required to defend an appeal is a fraction of what your likely paid your attorney for trial.
Finally, it is not clear when the judgment was entered. Has your attorney filed a memorandum of costs and, if appropriate, a motion for attorneys fees? Those proceedings are governed by short post-judgment deadlines, and cannot be put off pending the anticipated appeal.
Most appellate specialists such as myself will charge a modest first consultation fee to look over the case and discuss with you the potential risks.
This law firm handles appeals in all appellate courts throughout California, except bankruptcy, unemployment and workers comp appeals. Nothing contained in this communication is intended to be, or shall be deemed to be, legal advice, counsel, or services to you or on behalf of you or any other person or any entity. Use of the Avvo website does not create any obligation or relationship between you and the Law Office of Herb Fox, including but not limited to, an attorney-client relationship. Further, the communications on this website between you and the Law Office of Herb Fox is not privileged or confidential, and you should not post any information that you intend to keep confidential. Finally, your situation may be governed by legal deadlines, and you may lose your rights if you do not or did not act within those deadlines. You are solely responsible for meeting those deadlines until and unless you retain an attorney.
I agree with the points made by the other attorneys.
The most important thing I can tell you is that with the exception of appeals from small claims court cases, there is no "do over." An appeal from a limited or unlimited civil case is not an opportunity to re-try the case, or change testimony.
The Court of Appeal and the Appellate Division of the Superior Court are focused on whether or not the trial court made a legal error in reaching the ruling it did. Factual disputes that were resolved are very rarely disturbed on appeal, and facts are limited to the matters that were in front of the trial court when it heard the matter originally.
DISCLAIMER The materials appearing on this website are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice. Transmission or receipt of any information from this, or any, website does not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this website without seeking the advice of an attorney. The law is constantly changing, the materials appearing on this website are not guaranteed to be up-to-date. The application of law is dependent on the facts of each case, and no two cases are ever similar. It is important that users of this site realize that it is risky to assume that their case is identical to someone else's, without consulting with an attorney.
I am unsure of the source of the 50/50 prediction. However, most judgments are affirmed on appeal. Unfortunately, the problem that you face is that regardless of whether your judgment is reversed or affirmed, you will still have to incur the expense of defending the appeal.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline