In Arizona, every contested case that goes to trial and a judge or jury has issued a final ruling or judgment on has an automatic right to review by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
That, however, does not mean that every ruling by a judge in your case is “final” and therefore appealable. Identifying whether the court’s ruling in a matter is “final” and therefore can be appealed can be surprisingly complicated at times. For example, unless the judge specifically states otherwise, a Decree of Dissolution which grants the parties’ divorce and sets forth the final orders on legal decision making, parenting time, child support, and property division may still NOT be a “final” order for the purposes of an appeal if it awards attorneys’ fees to one party but does not state an exact amount for the same. In that case, only once the court determines the exact amount of attorneys’ fees will all issues be resolved and the case then “final” and therefore able to be appealed.
Except in very specific and special circumstances, the orders must be also final in the sense that the case ends with those orders. Temporary orders or other orders entered prior to trial while a case is proceeding to an eventual trial date are not appealable until trial has been completed, final orders have been entered, and the case has ended.
Additionally, the matter must be contested and have gone to trial to be able to be appealed. If you have settled your case and orders are entered based on your agreement, you have waived any right to appeal even if later you change your mind or suffer from “buyer’s remorse”.
Finally, even if you have a final, appealable order, there may be question as to the issues that you are appealing. Some issues are reviewed under a different standard by the appellate court depending on whether the issue is a legal one or a factual one. Essentially, some issues are easier to appeal (and win) than others.
Seeking the advice of an attorney experienced in appeals can be a great aid in determining whether you can appeal from the court’s orders and what issues that you have the best chance of success with. Next week’s blog will discuss the procedure and deadlines involved in filing an Appeal.
If you would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 994-8824 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.