The Purpose of the Appellate Courts
Appellate courts primarily exist to correct and review errors made in the trial or primary courts. Although some procedures might differ among the appellate courts, in the U.S, all these courts are primarily tasked to perform the function mentioned above. On top of this, the appellate courts also deal with the application and development of the law. Below are the roles of the appellate courts explained in finer details.
Courts of appeal are needed since they help in correcting the unskillfulness and unfairness of those adjudicating the law. The first tribunal can make some mistakes, e.g. when the court applies the incorrect legal rule or even when the court applies the right legal rule but in the wrong manner. The tribunal is also capable of making a mistake in its fact-finding mission. The error correcting function of the court of appeal can be viewed as a judicial duty that impacts a person’s rights. In other words, the persons directly affected by the amendment done by the appellate court are the litigating parties.
The correction of errors that have occurred at the trial levels is the fundamental purpose of the appellate court. To correct these errors, the court of appeal looks forward to either precedent or nullify the decision that was made before by the trial courts.
The right of appeal that is given to both parties tasks the appellate court to ensure that it reaches the correct decision after keenly studying the appealed case. Decisions made by the courts of appeal are fully reasoned since they are only based on the already presented evidence, reports and judgement of the trial courts.
The idea of errors, in this case, seems intuitive since the judge at the trial is supposed to adjudicate a dispute in a way that is consistent with the required legal standards. We might, therefore, assume that errors arise from the court's failure to implement the governing law appropriately. On this point of view, a reversal of the trial court’s decision is imminent since the court failed to do its due diligence when handling the case.
However, not all errors call for corrective action. A good example is the allegation of mistakes that were not preserved correctly – these errors cannot form a basis for an appeal. The harmless error doctrine also does not tolerate the appellate affirmance in cases where even if the rulings are erroneous, any action taken will not have serious repercussions to the affected party.
1. Correcting Injustice
One case scenario of the error correction role of the court of appeal would be the police trial level adjudication for injustice. In such a situation, the court of appeal will assimilate itself to the underlying altercation between the parties other than the particular issues that have been brought on appeal and from there seek to ensure that a just conclusion is reached.
2. Correcting Legal and Factual Mistakes
A more limited impression of the error correction function in the law entails the revision of legal and factual errors. The main difference between the injustice based conception and this conception is the breadth of the court focus that is involved. An appellate court that has its core institutional mission based on correcting injustice will be more willing to take a case that has its approach based on its disposition. On the contrary, a court that is focused on correcting legal and factual mistakes will concentrate its analysis on the level of the issue.
Development of Law
Appellate courts have a duty to develop the finer points of the law. Arguments made in courts of appeal are typically made by lawyers/ attorneys in written brief reports that focus strictly on the legislation of the case. The facts of the cases most of the times are determined by the trial court. The appellate court relies on the findings of the trial court when determining the appropriate law to be applied to the cases. The law focused approach of the tribunals of appeal allows them to concentrate on the development of legal themes and issues as opposed to the facts of the case presented to them.
This function of developing the law should not be mistaken with the executive role of enforcing and administering laws. However, it is the Congress and not the courts that make laws. The courts have the mandate of interpreting and applying the law in resolving disputes. Appellate courts in the American law play a vital role in the development of legal precedent.
The courts of appeal develop the law when reviewing the decisions made by the lower courts. When viewing these decisions, the appellate courts are asked to fill regulatory, statutory, and common law gaps that are found in the law. In so doing, these courts might end up articulating new legal rules.
In common law systems where rules are determined by regulations of laws developed by the tribunal of appeal, the judiciary’s duty of determining whether the right legal rule was applied and enforced correctly often integrates with a wider role in the development of legal precedents that are to be used for the resolution of future controversies and cases. It is in this manner that the appellate courts affect collective rights.
Uniform Application of the Law
Apart from law developing and error correction duties, the appellate court also serves a vital role in the monitoring of the uniform implementation of the law. The fact that a single court of appeal takes cases from various trial courts means that it should ensure that the laws are similar despite the origin of the case. The court of law can enhance this uniformity by interpreting the misunderstood and complex legislation in the trial courts.
With respect to error correction, appellate courts make sure that inferior courts obey the law thus promoting the concept of legitimacy by making sure that the ultimate outcome is strictly based on reasoned and impartial judgements. The concern of uniformity seemingly invokes the fundamentals of the rule of law – the notion that similar cases should be treated the same. Because of this, the role of an appellate court is, therefore, to ensure that judges within a given jurisdiction are to apply the given legal standards consistently in each case and with respect to one another.
Unfortunately, like justice, uniformity of the law also lacks defined borders. There cannot exist two identical cases or two parties that are similarly suited in all their particulars. In such cases, the appellate court uses doctrines to take care of the non-uniformity. They do this by making selected facts relevant to the need of triggering the rule that is meant to be applied and thus defining the fundamental parameters of uniformity.
The judicial system is a complex body that comes with a lot of bureaucracy. However, these strict rules are the ones that give us citizens the opportunity to exercise our constitutional rights. It is well known that not all cases tried at the lower or trial courts are done in a free and fair way. This is due to the vices of corruption that have consumed our current society. However, with the introduction of the Appellate courts, people are given a second chance to fight for their freedom which is their constitutional right. With the appellate courts in place, the law is guarded by all means necessary since once it's broken, it will open a bigger hole in the constitution in the future a thing that both you and I don’t wish to happen since we don’t know who the next victim might be.
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