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Affirm, affirmance: one of the possible results of an appeal. An affirmance means that the order, decision or judgment, the appealable paper, remains unchanged. An appellate court can also modify or reverse an appealable paper. See modify and reverse.

Aggrieved party: the person in a lawsuit whose interests are hurt by a determination made by a court. In appellate practice, the aggrieved party is called an appellant. The other party, the non-aggrieved party, is called either a respondent or an appellee.

Appeal: a procedure in which a court, often referred to as a higher court, reviews what a trial court, often referred to as a lower court, has done. Appeals are “taken” from one court to another court.

Appealable paper: a document from which an appeal can be taken. In a litigation context it is usually an order, decision or judgment.

Appellant: the aggrieved party, the party or person who is appealing.

Appellate Court: A court that is empowered to hear appeals from “lower” courts. In New York State there are two levels of appeal. The first level is the intermediate appellate court. As the name suggests, the intermediate appellate court is placed between the trial court and the highest court in the State of New York, the New York Court of Appeals. In some jurisdictions there is only one appellate level.

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court: intermediate appellate court in the State of New York.

Appellate jurisdiction: the power to decide an appeal.

Appellate practice: the practice of law devoted to appeals and related matters.

Appellate Process: the process, from start to finish, that results in a decision from an appellate court.

Appellate Term of Supreme Court: intermediate appellate court in the State of New York.

Appellee: another name for respondent, it refers to the other party in the appeal.

Attorney of record: the attorney who has a direct relationship with the litigant or party. All papers in the litigation are either created under that attorney’s name or served on that attorney on behalf of the client. See, “of counsel.”

Brief: a document that provides to a court all the facts and arguments required to determine an issue in litigation or an appeal.

County Court: created under the New York State Constitution with both trial and appellate jurisdiction.

Court of Appeals: highest court in the State of New York.

Court of first instance: usually a trial court; the first court in which a case is heard. Nisi prius.

Court of last resort: sometimes an appellate court, which has the power to end a case.

Court of original jurisdiction: see court of first instance.

Court system: refers to a smaller grouping of courts; see judicial system.

Cross appeal: an appeal taken by an aggrieved party after another party has filed a notice of appeal.

Federal courts: national courts that are created by the United States Constitution or the United States Congress, which operate under nationwide rules.

Filing: the formal receipt of a document by a court. Documents are filed with a court or at a county clerk’s office. In an appeal, a brief and record on appeal are filed with the appellate court’s clerk. When all of the required papers are filed in an appeal, the appeal is perfected.

High court: usually refers to the highest court in a jurisdiction.

Intermediate appellate court: in jurisdictions where there are more than a single level of appeal, the first appellate level is intermediate between the trial court and the highest court of that jurisdiction.

Judicial system: refers to courts in the broadest sense.

Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction can be thought of geographically and by subject matter. For example, the geographical jurisdiction of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Third Judicial Department is defined by the New York Constitution and by statute as containing twenty-eight counties. Subject matter jurisdiction is also defined by statute. The Appellate Divisions in New York hear appeals in civil and criminal cases. The Appellate Divisions also have other subject matter jurisdiction which is defined by the New York State Constitution and statutes.

Litigant or party: a person involved in a lawsuit (at the trial level or the appellate level).

Motion: a formal request that a court make an order.

Litigation: everything related to a lawsuit.

Notice of Appeal: A paper that is filed by an aggrieved party to inform the trial court, the appellate court and other parties in a lawsuit that an appeal will be brought to an appellate court. When the notice of appeal is properly filed and served, the appeal is “taken.”

Modify, modification: sometimes an appellate court can change what a lower court has stated in an appealable paper. See, affirm and reverse.

Of counsel: the relationship between the attorney of record, who has a direct relationship with a party or litigant, and an attorney who assists the attorney of record in one way or another.

Oral argument: the live presentation of legal and factual statements made for the purpose of informing and influencing a judge.

Parties to the Litigation: the people or businesses involved in a lawsuit.

Perfecting an appeal: all of the steps required to have an appellate court determine an appeal.

Pro se: people have the right to represent themselves in any court. When a person represents themselves they are pro se.

Record on Appeal: generally the documents, transcripts and exhibits submitted to a trial court, which are used to decide an appeal. The contents of the record on appeal are set by law and rule. Things that are outside the record on appeal will not be considered by an appellate court.

Respondent: another name for an appellee, it refers to the other party in an appeal.

Retainer: a contract between a lawyer and a client. In New York, attorneys generally are required to have written contracts with clients and those contracts must contain certain information. The scope of the retainer is very important. It describes what the lawyer is going to do for the client. Sometimes it specifically states what the lawyer will not do for the client and when it is necessary to enter into a new retainer agreement.

Reversal: when an appellate court determines that an appealable paper must be completely redone. Sometimes the appellate court will re-do the appealable paper, sometimes the appellate court will send the case back to the trial court to do what the appellate court directs and create a new order or judgment.

Service: refers to the specific rules that must be followed to provide the opposing side the documents in a case.

State courts: courts that are created by state constitutions and state legislatures that operate under a set of rules peculiar to a specific state.

Subject matter jurisdiction: those things that a court can determine. For example, some courts only have the power to determine disputes having a certain monetary value or disputes between landlords and tenants or disputes involving wills.

Supreme Court: highest trial court in the State of New York. Other trial courts in New York include Police, Village and Town Courts. In some other states, the Supreme Court is the name given to the highest appellate court.

Taking an appeal: the first step in the appellate process, usually completed by filing and serving a notice of appeal.

Testimony, testify: statements made by a witness under oath.

Trial Court: the first court where disputes, lawsuits, are brought by parties, also known as litigants, for determination. Some trial courts also have appellate jurisdiction over so-called lower trial courts. Thus, in New York State, County Courts, which are trial courts, also have appellate jurisdiction over cases, lawsuits and litigation brought by parties to Town or Justice Court. Likewise, appellate courts often have trial jurisdiction in addition to their appellate jurisdiction. Even the United States Supreme Court has trial jurisdiction in very narrow circumstances.

Transcript: the typewritten record of what happened in court including testimony, statements made by the court or attorneys, and the submission of evidence into the record. The term “verbatim transcript,” refers to the word-for-word typewritten record of what is said.

Trial Judge: a judge at the first level of litigation who is empowered to decide a legal dispute. Determinations made by a trial judge are reviewed by a judge who is given the power to do so. The reviewing judge is an appellate judge.

United States Supreme Court: the highest court in the United States, created by the United States Constitution.

Verbatim: word-for-word. A verbatim transcript of a hearing is a written record of every word spoken by the judge, the attorneys and any witness who testify.


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