appellate procedure


Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior.

A standard for review for appeal, often seen in administrative law. Under this standard, the finding of a lower court will not be disturbed unless it has no reasonable basis - if the...


Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryA heading required on all pleadings (court documents), listing the name and contact information of the lawyer or self-represented party, identifying the court in which the case is filed, and stating the...


A civil or criminal proceeding. May be called an action, suit, or controversy, depending on the jurisdiction and nature of the dispute.

See Controversy for an explanation of the "case or controversy" requirement in federal court.

Case of First Impression

A case of first impression is a case that presents a legal issue that has never been decided by the governing jurisdiction. An example is the 1978 Supreme Court case Monell v. Department of Soc. Svcs. which decided whether local governments were...



When a party loses in a court of law, it is often allowed to appeal the decision to a higher court. In some instances, parties are entitled to an appeal, as a matter of right. However, sometimes a party is not able to appeal as a matter of...

Circuit Riding

Many years ago, judges would often travel between the towns within a judicial district (previously known as a circuit) to hear cases in each town. The practice has largely discontinued.

Circuit Split

When two or more circuits in the United States court of appeals reach opposite interpretations of federal law. This is sometimes a reason for the Supreme Court to grant certiorari.

Clearly Erroneous

The “clearly erroneous” standard is a standard of review in civil appellate proceedings. The Supreme Court stated that “a finding is ‘clearly erroneous’ when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left...

Clearly Erroneous Test

Test used by appellate court engaging in reviewing a holding by a lower court. The test, established by Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules Civil Procedure, states that fact findings by a judge in a nonjury trial stand “unless clearly erroneous and the...

Collateral attack

Attack on a prior judgment in a new case (i.e., not by direct appeal). Also called an indirect attack. Examples include habeas corpus petitions and claims that a prior judgment was invalid after the opposing party cites it for strategic advantage in...