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Guide to Oral Arguments

Oral arguments are a presentation to the Court of Appeals to emphasize legal points.



Court of Appeals oral arguments

An oral argument is a discussion of facts and law involved in a case on appeal. Attorneys on both sides of the appeal are limited to 15 minutes to present their arguments, unless prior permission is obtained from the court.

The side filing the appeal is called the appellant and presents its argument first, with an opportunity to reserve part of the time for rebuttal. The opposing side is called the appellee.

Panels of three judges each are assigned up to 30 appeals on each monthly docket. Prior to argument, judges review briefs filed by the attorneys and an internal prehearing memo from the court's legal staff.

About half of cases before the Court of Appeals are scheduled for oral argument. The others are placed on a summary calendar.

When a case does not present a new question of law, and oral argument is deemed neither helpful to the court nor essential to a fair hearing of the appeal, it is placed on the summary calendar. These cases are deemed submitted without oral argument.

Court of Appeals dockets

 

Appeals process

An appeal transfers a case from a trial court to a higher court—an appellate court—for review of the lower court decision or judgment to ensure the law has been followed.

An appellate court does not preside over trials. Appellate court hearings do not involve witnesses, juries, new evidence, or court reporters. Instead, an appellate court reviews the written record of the trial court to determine whether any significant legal errors occurred during the trial. The trial court record includes the evidence admitted during the trial, transcripts of witness testimony, and rulings from the trial court.

Appellate procedure requires that parties provide the court with written arguments called briefs. Briefs describe the facts of the case and lay out the parties’ legal arguments. The appellate court studies the briefs, examines the trial court record, and researches relevant law. As part of its review, the appellate court may hear oral argument from the attorneys for the parties.

 

Appellate court decisions

After hearing the appeals, the judges return to their offices to conference and write their opinions. Judges meet in private conferences—closed even to staff—to discuss cases and decide outcomes.

Of the three judges who hear an appeal, a majority is needed to render a decision. If the panel is divided, a dissenting opinion can be written and filed with the majority.

All opinions are circulated first to the panel of judges who heard the case, and published opinions are circulated to all judges of the Court of Appeals before they are filed. Most opinions are filed within 60 days of hearing.

A published opinion is printed in a bound volume of the Kansas Court of Appeals Reports. An unpublished opinion does not decide a new point of law and is not published in a bound volume.

Both published and unpublished opinions typically are filed Friday mornings and posted to this website.

The appellate court can:

  • Affirm: uphold the decision or order of the lower court.

  • Reverse: set aside the decision or order of the lower court.

  • Remand: return to the trial court with instructions, such as ordering a new trial.



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