Definition of "Appellant"

Lisa McKeon real estate agent
Lisa McKeon, Real Estate Agent Douglas Elliman

The appellant definition references a concept related to legal proceedings. The appellant is the individual who is dissatisfied with the judgment in a lawsuit and asks for a superior court to review the decision. In order to appeal a court’s decision, the appellant must show that they have sufficient grounds for an appeal. Without sufficient grounds, they can not challenge the court’s judgment.

What does Appellant Mean?

In order to define appellant, we must understand how general legal proceedings go. For example, if John sues Jane and wins, Jane is allowed to file an appeal if she is dissatisfied with the result of the initial suit. In that case, Jane is the appellant and John is the appellee. If Jane wins the appeal, John can appeal as well, and the roles are reversed. In this case, the word appellant can be replaced by petitioner.

The most common situation when an appellant can appeal a lawsuit is if they lost in the trial court and appeal to the supreme court for a reversal or modification of the trial court judgment. The status of the appellant isn’t relevant as either plaintiff or defendant can become appellants. Similarly, it doesn’t matter if the appellant won or lost the case. If they have enough grounds to appeal the court’s decision and ask for a superior court to review the decision, they can.

How can one Become an Appellant?

As stated above, a trial court has to occur where one of the parties is dissatisfied with the result. Either the plaintiff or defendant can have grounds for appeal, even if they win the case. The decision to appeal comes from that dissatisfaction or the belief that the court made a mistake. Whether the appellant lost the case at the lower court level or won and was unhappy with the lower court’s decision, they can appeal to a higher court to review the decision.

Some legitimate legal grounds for an appeal are jurisdiction, jury instructions, evidentiary error.


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