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Appeals and the appellant's brief

If you've taken a matter to trial and lost, then you no doubt feel defeated. There's nothing that can deflate you faster than being told by a court or a jury that your arguments didn't hold enough weight to sway its opinion. This can be especially true when you felt that your legal position was persuasive enough to justify a ruling in your favor. Fortunately, Ohioans who find themselves in this position have the right to appeal a court's decision. To do so properly, though, certain steps must be taken and specific guidelines followed.

Perhaps the biggest part of an appeal is the brief. The appellant brief is a written legal argument crafted by the party who lost at the trial court level. This written argument must cite to the trial court record, as well as relevant statutory and case law as well as pertinent rules of evidence of trial. The arguments contained in the appellant's brief must be cogent, which means that they must be clear, logical and persuasive in nature. There are also length and formatting requirements that must be adhered to, and the brief must be filed within a specified period of time.

After the appellant brief is filed, the party who won at the trial court level files its own brief in support of its position. This written argument essentially states why the winning party believes the trial court's ruling was correct. After this brief is filed, the appellant can then file a shorter brief in reply. Again, the response must be cogent with appropriate cites.

Making arguments on appeal is a lot different than making arguments at the trial court level. Both are difficult and require a certain set of knowledge and skill. Far too often individuals fail to make appropriate legal arguments on appeal, meaning the court won't even fully address their position on appeal. This is a wasted opportunity, and these individuals usually only get one shot at getting a trial court's ruling reversed. Therefore, it is usually wise to seek legal counsel when pursuing an appellate case. This helps to protect your interests and rights in the matter.

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