Appeals

Chicago Attorneys Guiding Businesses and Individuals through Litigation

The judicial system does not always produce the right outcome at every step of the process. A lower court simply applies the law as one judge interprets it. Appeals are one of the ways in which laws are made, reinterpreted, or changed. However, not all trial lawyers or litigators are also appellate attorneys, and the same skill set is not necessarily involved in appeals. You may need a knowledgeable attorney who thoroughly understands the laws at issue to work on your appeal of a misguided decision. The commercial litigation lawyers at the Voelker Litigation Group can help clients in Chicago and other Cook County areas explain to an appellate court why a decision by a lower court should be reversed.

Challenging an Adverse Decision

The Illinois civil court system has three levels: Illinois Circuit Courts, Illinois Appellate Courts, and the Illinois Supreme Court. There are 23 circuits in Illinois, and the Circuit Clerk's Office for the appropriate county is where you file a state civil suit for damages. Judges in these circuits hear civil lawsuits for the first time, including motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, and trials.

There often are instances in which your lawyer can appeal before the end of the lawsuit, and these make up most of our office's appeals. Certain orders can be immediately appealed to prevent undue hardship. For example, an order that grants or refuses an injunction is immediately appealable under Rule 307. Motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment may also be subject to immediate appeal.

Appeals must be made on legitimate, recognized grounds. Some grounds that are recognized as good reasons to appeal include legal or factual errors by the judge when granting a motion to dismiss or summary judgment, situations when the evidence did not support the outcome reached by the judge or jury, or an unfair trial.

If you believe there are legitimate grounds to appeal, you can file an appeal with the Illinois Appellate Court. You only have 30 days after the lower court issues a final judgment or an appealable order to file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court where the decision was made.

The notice of appeal that you file must state the decision that you are appealing and the relief you seek, which is what you want the appellate court to do. There are five appellate courts in Illinois. Unlike trial, where a single judge or jury makes a determination, there will be a panel of three judges to hear your argument and decide it among themselves.

The appellate court can "affirm," "reverse", "remand," or "reverse and remand." Often, the ruling is some combination of these. When the decision is affirmed, it means the judges agree with the circuit court. If the decision is reversed, it means the appellate court disagreed with the circuit court and is reversing the decision on its own.

When a case is remanded, the appellate court is asking the circuit court to take further action. For example, if a lower court improperly rendered summary judgment, and there are additional legal and factual questions that it should have considered before granting summary judgment, the case may be remanded so that the lower court can consider those questions. When a case is both reversed and remanded, the appellate court disagrees with the circuit court decision and tells the circuit court to correct it.

If either party disagrees with the appellate court's decision, it can ask the seven justices of the Illinois Supreme Court, the highest state court, to review the case. The Court does not automatically review every case that is sent to it. Instead, it chooses cases for review, and if it does not choose a case, the appellate court's decision stands.

In some cases, however, it is possible to directly appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court from the lower court. For example, there are certain cases in which the public interest demands immediate adjudication by the Court. Under Rule 383, you can also directly petition the Court to exercise its supervisory authority over a trial or appellate court. Supervisory orders can be granted in situations in which a trial or appellate court has acted outside its authority or abused its discretionary authority. Our office has handled petitions brought under Rule 383 successfully.

If you lose in the Illinois Supreme Court, or in a federal court of appeals, you can file a petition for a "writ of certiorari," which asks the United States Supreme Court to review the case. Our office has taken cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal circuit courts.

Consult a Chicago Lawyer for Guidance at Trial and on Appeal

The appellate process is complicated, and once you have an appeal heard on a particular final judgment, you cannot have it heard again. If you need to contest an order or decision by a trial court, you should retain Chicago attorneys who are experienced in appeals of business disputes as soon as possible after a final judgment. Call the knowledgeable attorneys at the Voelker Litigation Group at 312-870-5430 or contact us via our online form. We represent clients in Winnetka, Berwyn, Des Plaines, and Arlington Heights, among other communities across Cook County. Our attorneys also offer their services in DuPage County cities such as Naperville and Aurora. Moreover, the Voelker Litigation Group represents clients around the United States, including in Florida, Delaware, and California.

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