As the other attorney mentioned, the defense is trying to get a higher court to take a look at a specific issue(s) that they believe the trial court erred in making. This can be a lengthy process. Contact the attorney that handled the underlying matter for more information.
Both counsel have given you the correct answer, the case has not been finalized yet.
My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none, but many will offer a free consultation and a face to face meeting generally will be better, I like my clients to write a short one page history of the fact and questions they have prior to meeting with them, so nothing is forgotten.
To say that a case is on appeal simply means that in the judgement of the lower Court is being challenged in a higher court. If it is in the case of a felony conviction that means that potentially the Appellate Court could overturn the entire conviction (or a part of it) and your friend could have his felony convictions wiped off the records. In other words, it is not over until "the fat lady sings". (That is not to say of course that there are any fat judges in the appellate courts.