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Appeals

An appeal is a proceeding by which a case is brought from a lower court to a higher court for rehearing or reconsideration after a judgment has been given by the lower court. The higher or appellate court may sustain, reverse or modify the decision. Most appeals are limited to a review of the record from the lower court. Parties cannot introduce new evidence, but are limited to what was said and introduced at the original trial. The appellate court reviews the lower court’s application of the law to the facts as presented at the trial.

Some appeals do allow for a new trial without reference to the evidence submitted in the original proceeding. Such an appeal results in a trial de novo, meaning a trial from the beginning. Appeals from small claims court result in a trial de novo in the Superior court. The superior court judge is not bound by the decision of the small claims judge, and new evidence can be presented.

Information on Appeal Types

Small Claims Appeals

Appeal after being present at trial

In small claims court an appeal results in a trial de novo, meaning a trial from the beginning, conducted in the Superior Court. Therefore, all evidence presented at the small claims trial must be presented again in the Superior Court at the trial de novo. Only a Superior Court judge will hear a trial de novo; no pro tem or temporary judge hears small claims appeals.

Only the defendant, or a plaintiff who was counter sued as a cross-defendant and lost on the cross-complaint, can appeal a small claims case. A plaintiff cannot file an appeal. The defendant or cross-defendant must have been present at the time of trial in order to appeal the decision.

Any of the parties may choose to have an attorney represent him, her or it at the trial de novo. Unlike in regular superior court cases, an attorney is not required to represent a corporation at a trial de novo.

When there are multiple defendants, and an appeal is filed by one of them, the entire case as to all the parties will be tried again at the trial de novo.

If you want to file an appeal, you must take care in filing the necessary papers within the proper time. Time limitations for filing and processing an appeal are strictly enforced. A party who fails to comply with the time lines may be "defaulted" at any time during the appeals process, and may lose the right to appeal as a result.

Time for filing appeal

An appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date of mailing the Notice of Entry of Judgment. After 30 days the time to file an appeal has expired, and there is no more right to appeal. To calculate the due date, do not count the day of mailing, but count 30 calendar days beginning the day after the date shown as the mailing date on the Notice of Entry of Judgment. The appeal must be filed no later than the 30th day. If the 30th day falls on a weekend or a court holiday, your papers are due the next court day.

It is not wise to wait until the last day because if your papers need correction, or an emergency arises for you and you cannot get to court, you may lose your right to appeal by not filing within 30 days. No additional time is given for personal emergencies or because your papers are rejected at the filing counter.

Cost for filing an appeal

An $75.00 fee is charged for filing an appeal. A waiver of the fee may be requested by those who cannot afford to pay. An appeal is filed in the appellate department of the Superior Court. Costs for filing the appeal may be awarded to the party who wins the case on appeal at the discretion of the Superior Court Judge hearing the trial de novo. Once an appeal is filed the Court will send notice of the hearing on the new trial to all parties.

Changing the trial or hearing date

If you must change a hearing date or trial date, you need to send a written request to the court stating the reasons for the requested change. Any communication to the court regarding your case must be sent to the other side. Therefore, when you write to the court, make sure you send to the other side a copy of your letter or document you intend to file with the court.


Traffic Court Appeals

Traffic Citation Appeal

In an appeal, a higher court reviews the order or judgment of a lower court. Any party may appeal from an unfavorable decision based upon whether there was enough evidence to support the judgment or whether errors of law were committed during or before trial which harmed the appealing party.

There is no fee for filing an appeal on traffic, criminal or juvenile court cases. Forms for traffic appeal are available from the clerk’s office or on the Forms section of this web site.

On a decision in a limited civil case (those within the jurisdiction of the former municipal court), the notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the entry of judgment.

Parking Citation Appeal

After receiving a final decision of the issuing agency, you may contest that decision by filing local form VN225, Notice of Appeal Parking. The Notice of Appeal Parking form and a copy of the citation must be filed with the court within 30 days after the mailing of the final decision of the issuing agency. There is a filing fee of $25.00 as outlined in section 40230 of the California Vehicle Code and 70615 of the California Government Code.

The Notice of Appeal Parking form must be served on the Issuing Agency. Proof of service must be filed with the Court at least 10 days prior to the hearing date. The court will not proceed on your appeal unless service has been made.


Other Civil Appeals

In an appeal, a higher court reviews the order or judgment of a lower court. Any party may appeal from an unfavorable decision based upon whether there was enough evidence to support the judgment or whether errors of law were committed during or before trial which harmed the appealing party.

There are strict time limits in which to file an appeal. Code of Civil Procedure sections 904 through 906 discuss appeals in general. For appealing a limited civil case (those within the jurisdiction of the former municipal court), other than small claims, consult Rules 8.820 through 8.891 of the California Rules of Court. For appeals from Superior Court, consult Rules 8.100 through 8.224 of the California Rules of Court, as well as the rules of the Appellate Court in which the appeal is to be filed.

You must be careful filing papers since the time lines for filing and processing an appeal are strictly enforced. A party who fails to comply with the time lines may be "defaulted" at any time during the appeals process, and may lose the right to appeal as a result.

Fees for filing

The fee for filing an appeal from a limited civil case (those within the jurisdiction of the former municipal court) decision is $225.00. The fee for filing an appeal on a Superior Court decision is $370.00. The clerks have forms for filing some appeals, but others must be self drafted. Guidebooks are available in the law library.

Time limit for filing

On a decision in a limited civil case, the notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days after mailing or personal service of the notice of entry of judgment. If a Notice has not been mailed or personally served, the appeal period is 90 days from the entry of judgment by the court.

On a decision of the Superior Court, the notice of appeal must be filed within 60 days after the mailing or personal service of the entry of judgment. If a Notice has not been mailed or personally served, the appeal period is 180 days from the entry of judgment by the court.

Permission to file late is rarely given. Filing of a notice of appeal does not stop enforcement of the judgment. You must still comply with all terms and conditions of the court order. Sometimes it may be possible to post a bond to stay (stop) the enforcement of a judgment for money while an appeal is pending.


For frequently asked questions about Appeals, visit our FAQs page.

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