Reading Research Articles: Information for Non-Academics

The Kentucky Constitution affords litigants in civil and criminal cases, as a matter of right, at least one appeal to another court (Kentucky Constitution § 115). The party who files an appeal (the appellant) must show that the trial court made a legal error that affected the decision in the case. The appellant prepares a formal brief discussing the legal arguments. The Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure govern the form and content of the brief to be filed in the Court of Appeals (CR 76.12(4)(c)). In the brief, the appellant tries to explain that the trial court made errors, and that its decision should be reversed. The opposing party (the appellee), may also file a brief to respond to the appellant’s arguments. In briefs submitted to the Court, appellants cite previous court cases that support their point of view. The Court of Appeals does not receive additional evidence or hear witnesses; rather the judges make their decision based on the certified record of the case in the trial court, the briefs submitted by the parties, and in about 20 percent of cases, oral arguments made by the parties. After review of the case, the Court of Appeals may dispose of the case by: affirming, reversing, remanding or vacating the decision of the trial court. Final decisions of the Court of Appeals may be reviewed by the Supreme Court. If a case is reviewed by the Supreme Court of Kentucky and an unfavorable decision is rendered, the case may be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

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