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567-302-0763

The importance of the record on appeal

Losing a case is never easy, especially when significant financial and emotional resources are on the line. Those who lose at trial often feel like the extensive amount of time they put into the case was for naught, which leaves them angry and frustrated. Yet, losing a case at the trail court level is not the end of the road. This is because those who lose a lawsuit have a legal right to appeal the decision made by the trial court or a jury at the trial court level. However, it is important to note that an appeal is not another bite at the apple. Instead, an appeal allows a party to have the trial reevaluated to ensure that a fair outcome is reached.

How is this accomplished? It begins by reviewing the transcript of the trial. Everything said during the trial is recorded, and every exhibit admitted into evidence is forwarded to the court of appeals. Therefore, litigants need to be careful and detailed in everything that they say in court. Objections must be made in a timely fashion, and responses to those objections need to hold up to appellate scrutiny. Those who don't make a good record at trial can find themselves at a severe disadvantage on appeal.

There are instances when the record may be in dispute. These cases are few and far between, but they can create issues. If a recording wasn't made, if it is compromised, or if the recording isn't available, then the appellant must submit a written statement of the record from the best means available, including his or her recollection. The other side can then submit any objections to the appellant's account of events. The trial court then makes a determination as to what will constitute the official record.

So what does all of this mean to those who are about to embark on a legal pursuit? It means that they need to be fully prepared before stepping into a courtroom and going on the record. Anything and everything can be scrutinized, and even a seemingly minor slip of the tongue or failure to make a particular argument can have severe consequences. This is why it is imperative that these individuals at least consider having an experienced litigator on their side before engaging in these matters.

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