Types of Appeals from Municipal Court, Small Claims Courts, and Justice of the Peace Courts

There are a number of different courts which deal with minor matters such as traffic or municipal tickets or small claims.

However, many of these cases end in such a way that one party feels the need to appeal.

How the appeal is handled varies greatly between states and even parts of states but we wanted to provide just a little information and a few terms you needed to be familiar with if you are in this situation.

There are two types of appeals in these kinds of cases and they involve completely different kinds of procedures.

The first is called an appeal but it is really just a new trial or a "trial de novo". This is what happens when a case is appealed from a court that is not "of record", which means there was no court reporter there, no record was made of the witness testimony, etc. In cases where a trial de novo is used, then essentially the parties start over from the beginning, they have to do new arguments, call witnesses, get the same testimony, introduce all of the evidence again as well as any new evidence they choose to use, etc. It is in all respects a completely new trial. In addition, once the trial de novo is completed and a judgment entered there is usually no appeal from that judgment to another court.

The second type of appeal is more along the lines of what we think of as a traditional appeal. The evidence and witness testimony from the first trial is sent to the court which will be handling the appeal, the parties submit briefs which set forth their arguments and where they thought the judge or jury erred in the trial, etc. 

A case that is appealed via trial de novo is (mostly) governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure whereas the case in a traditional appeals format is governed by the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

If you are appealing a case in which you represented yourself then you definitely need to be sure you know what type of appeal is going to take place and which rules will govern it. When in doubt, pay for a few minutes of a local lawyer's time to advise you or ask the experts at JustAnswer, there is a box to enter your question on the sidebar of this blog. If you don't know what type of appeal you are facing, then you won't know the rules and will almost certainly lose.

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