What are standards of review on appeal?

The standard of review is the lens through which an appellate court will look when evaluating each issue in your case. The viability of each issue raised on appeal will depend on the standard of review applied. This is why appellate issue identification and evaluation is best handled by an experienced appellate attorney who knows how appellate judges think.


For example, facts are decided in the trial court. Appellate courts pay deference to the facts decided in the trial court, where witness credibility was evaluated. This is because an appeal is not a new trial. An appeal is a review of what occurred in the trial court. Yet certain cases support a factual dispute on appeal, such whether the evidence was sufficient to support the judgment when viewing the the contested evidence in the light most favorable to the winning party.


On the other hand, issues of law are the domain of the appellate court. Did the trial judge err in interpreting or applying the law? Does the case provide for an extension of an existing law? These are questions an appellate court can answer anew, without deference to the trial court.


There are many different standards of review for appeal. The greatest factor for each is whether the issue for appeal was preserved in the trial court. Issues are typically preserved by motion, objection and an offer of proof. Preserved issues are provided substantially greater review. In civil (non-criminal) cases, only rarely are unpreserved errors appealable.


More answers to frequently ask questions about appeals are available on this website. If you have additional questions, or are ready to proceed with your appeal, call Appellate Attorney William Driscoll at 978-846-5184.