FAQ: Appeals to the New Hampshire Supreme Court

The following are some frequently asked questions regarding legal appeals in New Hampshire:

I lost my case.  How do I appeal?

Typically, the first step in an appeal is to file a Motion for Reconsideration in the trial court within 10 days of the decision you are appealing.  This is usually necessary to “preserve” NHSupremeCtthe arguments you plan to make on appeal.  The New Hampshire Supreme Court will not consider your arguments unless they were first raised before the trial court.

After the trial court’s final order, a party has 30 days to appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the only appellate court in New Hampshire.  The appealing party submits a form called a Notice of Appeal to the Supreme Court within those 30 days.

Does the Supreme Court have to accept my appeal?

Most appeals in New Hampshire are “mandatory,” meaning the New Hampshire Supreme Court is obligated to accept and consider the appeal.  Appeals in a few specific areas (notably, some family law matters) are “discretionary,” meaning the Supreme Court may or may not accept the case.  In all appeals, it’s within the discretion of the Court to determine whether the parties will be granted oral argument before the Court, or whether the issue will be decided “on the briefs.”

I won in trial court, and now the other side is appealing. What should I do?

It’s important not to underestimate an appeal.  Even if you won in trial court, there’s no guarantee that decision will stand up to appeal.  If the other party is appealing a decision you prevailed on, you should vigorously argue against that appeal in the Supreme Court. In certain situations, you may be able to have the appeal disposed of summarily if you act quickly.

What are my chances to win on appeal?

As a rule, determinations of fact will not be reversed on appeal.  Therefore, issues like the weighing of evidence and decisions on whether a particular witness was credible are within the trial court’s broad discretion and will not be disturbed by the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, decisions on questions of “law”—for example, the interpretation of a statute or legal precedent—are considered by the Supreme Court on a blank slate: no deference is granted to the trial court.gavel-1017953_1920

Do I need a special attorney for my appeal?

Appeals require extensive legal research and writing.  Some attorneys are more comfortable and adept at these tasks than others. While many clients opt to have their trial attorney handle their appeal, other clients retain an attorney with a focus in appellate law.

Contact Welts, White & Fontaine, PC today to speak to a member of their Appellate Practice group.  The Appellate Practice group utilizes decades of New Hampshire Supreme Court experience and the latest legal research databases to produce well-written and well-research briefs for their clients.

You can call us today at (603) 883-0797, or use the contact form in the footer of this page. Welts, White & Fontaine is Nashua’s biggest law firm and serves the legal needs of both individuals and businesses in towns such as Amherst, Milford, Hudson, Brookline, Windham, Hollis, Merrimack, Litchfield, Bedford, Londonderry, Pelham, and of course Nashua.

Author: Israel F. Piedra

This blog is intended for informational use only. The information contained herein should not be construed as offering legal advice or a legal opinion or forming an attorney-client relationship.