Appellate court basics

In this section:


This page has information about courts that hear unlimited and limited appeals. Get other information about appeals of small claimstraffic tickets (infractions), or misdemeanors.

Which court hears appeals

The appellate court is the court that hears the appeal of a trial court's decision

In the information in this section, the term "appellate court" is used to refer to the Court of Appeal or the appellate division of the superior court. The "trial court" is the court that made the decision you are appealing. In California, the trial court is the superior court.

Appeals of limited and unlimited civil cases are heard in different appeals courts

  • Appeals of limited civil cases (civil cases involving an amount that is $35,000 or less) are heard in the appellate division of your local superior court.
  • Appeals of unlimited civil cases (such as civil cases involving an amount over $35,000 and family law cases) are heard in 1 of the 6 California Courts of Appeal

The appellate division of the superior court (limited civil appeal)

The appellate division of the superior court handles appeals and petitions for extraordinary writs, such as mandamus, prohibition, and certiorari, in limited civil cases. Every superior court has an appellate division, and you can find the local rules and other information on your superior court's website or ask the clerk of the court.

Court of Appeal (unlimited civil appeal)

The California Appellate Courts Self-Help Resource Center has guides and information to help you understand the California appeals process and get answers to your questions. 

The Courts of Appeal handle appeals in unlimited civil cases. Courts of Appeal also decide certain cases that do not start in the superior court and instead must be filed at the Court of Appeal, like petitions for extraordinary writs, such as mandamus, prohibition, and certiorari, in unlimited civil cases.

There are 6 appellate districts in California. Each district Court of Appeal hears appeals from the decisions of the trial courts in the counties within that district. Once you find out what district the trial court in your county falls under, you can get more information by visiting that district's website. 

Civil appeals

What's next?

Get more information about what the appeals court reviews (legal errors) and how they make their decision (standard of review).

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