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Are you Thinking of Appealing your Case in Maryland? Successfully Overturn the Result of your Case in the Appellate Courts

Brent M. Ahalt


You have just been through a trial and are not satisfied with the results.  It looks like an appeal is the only option to correct a decision that you feel is wrong.  Yet, the conception persists that the large majority of appeals, regardless of merit, are unsuccessful.  Thus, you are left with the unpleasant decision to live with the unsatisfactory result or spend further time and money on a case that is essentially a lost cause.  However, not all hope should be lost.

First, it should be noted that each case is unique and should be analyzed that way.  There are a number of legal rulings that happen throughout any case and each ruling can create issues that can be successful on appeal.  Some incorrect rulings may not be significant enough to justify overturning the result of case.  The appellate courts call these “harmless” errors.  On the other hand, significant errors made by the trial court that could have changed the result of the case are considered “reversible” errors.  If any reversible errors are found by an appellate court, you will likely achieve some level of success on your appeal.  Your trial attorneys should be able to initially advise you as to whether there were any reversible errors committed by the trial court during the course of the case.  However, it may also be worthwhile to get the opinion of an attorney who regularly handles appeals and was not your trial attorney.  A fresh set of eyes from an experienced appellate attorney can help to spot different issues and also recognize the difference between harmless and reversible error.

Second, the appellate statistics may very well be more favorable than expected.  In Maryland, for instance, the Judiciary publishes its appellate statistics as part of its annual report, which can be found at the following link: 
 https://mdcourts.gov/sites/default/files/import/publications/annualreport/reports/2020/fy2020statisticalabstract.pdf
 
These statistics show that in 2020 a surprising number of cases, 160, resulted in some type of favorable decision to the appealing party while 384 cases resulted in an affirmed decision of the trial court in civil cases in the Court of Special Appeals (Maryland’s intermediate appellate court).  Perhaps even more surprising, in the Court of Appeals (Maryland’s highest court), 20 cases resulted in some type of favorable decision while only 19 resulted in an affirmed decision of the lower court.  While these statistics are somewhat difficult to decipher without the details of each case, they do show that winning an appeal after losing at the trial court level is something that regularly occurs in Maryland’s appellate courts.

In summary, all may not be lost after an unsuccessful trial!  It is worthwhile to evaluate your appeal options.  If you find yourself with an unfavorable result at the trial level (or need to defend an appeal of a successful result) please contact one of the appellate attorneys at McNamee Hosea to assist you in evaluating your options.