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In the federal system, the losing party has the right to appeal to the appropriate circuit court of appeals. The state systems typically grant a right to appeal to the appellate court. For both the federal and state systems, the granting of leave to appeal to the supreme court is discretionary. The scope of review by the appellate court as to the judgment of the trial court depends upon the issue appealed. If a question of law, the appellate court can review the judgment de novo, free to reverse for even harmless error. The general standard applied is abuse of discretion. If it is a question of fact as decided by a judge, the appellate court can only reverse if the finding was clearly erroneous. If the trier of fact was a jury, the verdict can only be reversed in the complete absence of any substantial credible evidence to support the findings. A complete trial is not held before the appellate courts. The majority of the argumentation is presented in written briefs with very limited opportunity for oral arguments, generally fifteen to thirty minutes. The superior court can affirm the judgment of the trial court, reverse it and direct entry of judgment for the opposing party, or vacate the trial court’s judgment and remand the case back to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with the appellate court’s opinion.

Excerpted with permission of the author from: American Business Law A Civil Law Perspective, Laura Carlson, J.D. (USA), LL.M. (Sweden)