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The Number of Appeals

Generally, the final judgment of a lower court can be appealed to the next higher court one time only. Thus, the total number of appeals depends on how many courts are “superior” to the court that made the contested decision, and sometimes what the next higher court decides the appeal’s basis. In states with large populations, it is common to find three or even four levels of courts, while in less populous states there may be only two. There are important differences in the rules, time limits, costs, and procedures depending on whether the case is in Federal court or state court. Also, each state has different rules. Finally, even within a single state one may find that there are different rules for appeals depend on the court in which the case originated.

Filing a Notice of Appeal is the first step in the appeal process. An appellate court cannot adjudicate a case if the notice is not properly filed in a timely manner. The notice must be filed within a definite time, usually 30 days in civil appeals and 10 days in criminal appeals. The period within which to file usually starts on the date a final judgment in the lower court is filed.

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