This post is the fourth in an ongoing series explaining the process of a civil appeal. Prior posts described filing of a notice of appeal, filing the record on appeal and filing appellate briefs with the Court of Appeal. After briefing is completed, the court will set oral argument. In Los Angeles and Orange County, this usually occurs within 60-120 days from the date the last brief is filed. Following oral argument, the court will take the matter under submission and then issue its written opinion deciding the appeal within 60-90 days after oral argument. For most disputes, the written opinion is the end of the appellate process. However, under some circumstances, the losing party may try to seek further relief
Further Proceedings in the Court of Appeal. A party to an appeal may petition the court of appeal for a rehearing. A court of appeal may grant rehearing to correct any error that was made in the opinion when the correction “would likely produce either a different result or different reasoning.” (Alameda County Management Employees Assn. v. Superior Court (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 325, 339) Typical grounds for such a petition are: 1) that the court of appeal’s decision omits a material point of fact or law; 2) mistake of law; 3) the directions to the trial court require clarification or correction; or 4) a process error occurred in the composition of the panel of justices who heard oral argument. Notably, this is not an opportunity to simply re-hash arguments previously raised to the court in the prior briefs or, worse, to raise new issues not previously argued.
Whether to Petition the California Supreme Court. A party losing an appeal may also seek relief in the California Supreme Court. Unlike proceedings before the Court of Appeal, in which every litigant’s case is heard on the merits, very few cases are accepted by the California Supreme Court for review. Less than five percent of petitions for review are granted by the California Supreme Court. A petition for review may be granted:
1. When necessary to secure uniformity of decision or to settle an important question of law;
2. When the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction;
3. When the Court of Appeal decision lacked the concurrence of sufficient qualified justices; or
4. For the purpose of transferring the matter to the Court of Appeal for such proceedings as the Supreme Court may order.
Post Appeal Issues in the Trial Court. After the parties have exhausted (or chosen not to exercise) their rights in the Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court, the case is usually remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. These proceedings can include new trials, motions for attorney’s fees or other proceedings as directed by the higher court.