A motion to appeal is a formal request to have a court reverse the decision or judgment of another court. For example, if a person has been ordered to pay a monetary sum to the plaintiff in a case, he may file a motion to appeal in the hopes of having the decision reversed. The manner in which appeals are handled may depend on the type of case and the jurisdiction in which it is heard. In most cases, however, appeal cases are decided in a higher court.
Typically, the verdict a jury gives or the judgment a judge hands down is final. Many jurisdictions, however, have processes by which a party can request an appeal. When a person files a motion to appeal, he asks a higher authority to review the case. This may include asking for a review not only of the decision the original court gave, but also the procedures that were followed during the case.
People sometimes confuse this type of motion with requests for new trials. They may also think of appeals as a chance for a party to a case to bring new evidence before the court. In most jurisdictions, this is not the purpose of the appeals process. Instead, an appeal is a process by which a higher court or higher authority checks to see whether the lower authority made legal errors in the case.
Usually, either party to a case has a right to file a motion to appeal. In fact, it is possible for both parties to file a motion at the same time. If, for example, a plaintiff feels he has grounds for a motion to appeal, he may file one. At the same time, however, the defendant may feel he has grounds for an appeal for an entirely different reason. In some cases, the appeals of both parties may be granted; in others, one party to a case may prevail or both requests may be denied.
Generally, it is helpful to seek assistance from an attorney when filing an appeal. Attorneys have in-depth legal knowledge of the appeals process and may be able to provide insight into whether or not a person has grounds for an appeal. They are also familiar with filing motions to appeal and other paperwork the average person may find complex. In some cases, however, courts provide self-help forms and instructions, often online, that may make it easier for a person to file a motion to appeal on his own.