Appeals & Writs

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If an error occurs at the trial court level (or in certain cases the administrative level), it may be appropriate to initiate an appeal or writ proceeding.  Dorfman Law Office can help you.  Every instance must be carefully analyzed, as different proceedings have differing standards of review.  Aside from mastery of the technical details of appellate procedure, the most important service an attorney can give a client regarding such a proceeding is a realistic assessment of the chances of success.  The general overview below is subject to significant exceptions.


If a party is unsatisfied with the outcome of a trial (or certain appealable orders), they may be able to appeal the result.  Appeals are not simply a “do-over”.  Just being unhappy with the result is not a valid ground for appeal.  After all, most decisions pick a winner and loser.  The appellate courts are concerned with errors, usually significant errors of law.  They are not generally in the business of second guessing judges or juries regarding factual matters.  There are very specific time limits and procedures applicable to appeals.


Sometimes a very important decision affects a case, but it is not appealable.   It still may be possible to obtain appellate review through a writ proceeding.  Most writs are not granted, so it is important to carefully consider whether such a proceeding should be brought.  Under the right circumstances it may be the only way to obtain the correct outcome.


When an appellate court makes an error, and can not be persuaded to reverse the error, it may be possible to have the decision reviewed by the highest court available.  The California Supreme Court can review state court appellate decisions, and the United States Supreme Court can review federal appellate decisions.  Such review is rare and usually reserved for cases which affect important areas of the law which impact significant public rights or duties.

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