An appellate court has broad powers over the scope of its decision and the relief to be granted. After reviewing the controlling issues in an action, it may affirm the decision of the inferior tribunal, modify it, reverse it, or remand the case for a new trial in the lower court pursuant to its order.
When a decision is affirmed, the appellate court accepts the decision of the lower court and rejects the appellant's contention that it was erroneously made. The modification of a decision by an appellate court means that, while it accepts part of the trial court's decision, the appellant was correct that the decision was partly erroneous. The trial court's decision is then modified accordingly.
A reversal of a decision means that the appellate court agrees with the appellant that the decision was erroneously made. The party who lost the case at the trial level becomes the winning party in appellate court.
In some cases, a decision might be reversed but the lawsuit is still unresolved. The appellate court then orders the reversal with the direction that the case be remanded to a lower court for the determination of the issues that remain unsettled.
If a judgment or order is reversed in an intermediate appellate court, the losing party may file an appeal with a superior appellate court for relief, and the appellate process begins again. The decision rendered by a superior appellate court cannot ordinarily be reviewed. In state cases involving issues based on federal statutes or the Constitution, however, an appeal may be brought in the federal court system on those questions that are within its jurisdiction.
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