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Standards of Appellate Review

  • By: Robert Klein

There are three different standards of appellate review.  The easiest burden for an appellant is the independant or de novo review.  That is when the Court of Appeal reviews the case in full as if it were being presented for the first time.  This standard of review applies when the contract interpretation is the issue or whether the case in the trial court was decided on summary judgment.

The second level of standard of review is the abuse of discretion standard.  Under this standard the Court of Appeals looks to see if the trial court acted in a manner that is capricious or arbitrary.  Great latitude is given to the trial courts and it is difficult to overturn a verdict or judgment under the abuse of discretion standard of appellat review.

The final standard of review is the substantial evidence standard of review.  This is the most difficult standard to overcome for an appellant.  Under this standard the Court of Appeals merely looks if there was sufficient evidence to support the judgment or verdict.

The “substantial evidence” standard applies where the appealed ruling turns on the trial court’s determination of disputed fact issues. Cases law holds that when a trial court’s factual determination is attacked on the ground that there is no substantial evidence to sustain it, the power of an appellate court begins and ends with the determination as to whether, on the entire record, there is substantial evidence, contradicted or uncontradicted, which will support the determination.

The standard of appellate review if often a subject of disagreement between the appellant and the respondent.  The standard of appellate review is instrumental in the outcome of cases on appeal.

Robert Klein

About the Author Attorney Robert Klein is a former CPA and known for
finding creative solutions to complex business lawsuits.