Trial Court vs Appellate Court

The difference between the Superior Court and the Appellate Court

The Trial Court is called the Superior Court (in the Federal System it is called the District Court). The focus in the trial court is to discover the true facts. For example, was the traffic light green or red? Did someone commit fraud (i.e. knowingly tell a lie)? The ability to be a salesman, to sway a jury, to tell a convincing story is the mark of a good trial lawyer. Something called “the law” is incidental to the primary focus of convincing the jury (or judge) that you are telling the truth and the other side is not.

In the appellate courts, almost always there is no battle over the facts. The appellate court will accept the facts that the jury found. Now the stop light is red… not green. Now the defendant did commit fraud. So the focus of the appellate court is to insure that (1) both sides got a fair trial and (2) the judge applied the right law to the case. (What if the judge said the person with the red light had the right of way?) This is the kind of question appellate courts look at—with the help of specially trained/experienced appellate attorneys. No longer do you need a good salesman to convince a jury you are telling the truth and the other side is not. Now you need someone trained and skilled in cold, hard logic and reasoning to debate whether (1) the trial was fair and (2) what the legal rules were in your case.

This is why you need an appellate specialist.