Discretionary Review of a State Court Decision
State Courts of Appeals
Generally, a litigant can file an appeal of a state trial court's final decision as a matter of right. The party filing the appeal usually is called the appellant; the other party is called the appellee. The appeal is filed with the intermediate appellate court of the state, which is typically called the court of appeals. Mandatory review means that the court of appeals must review the trial court's decision.
State Supreme Court
There is a distinction between mandatory review by the court of appeals and discretionary review by the state's highest court, which is usually called the supreme court. A litigant is not entitled to a second appeal as of right to the supreme court. The losing party in the court of appeals can petition the state's highest court for review of the appellate court's judgment, but the highest court is not required to hear the appeal. For example, the Supreme Court of Ohio has discretionary jurisdiction to review an Ohio court of appeals' decision reviewing the judgment of a trial court. Four of the seven supreme court justices must agree to approve a petition for discretionary review before the supreme court will take the case.
Factors in Deciding Discretionary Review Petitions
One of the factors considered by the supreme court in deciding to grant discretionary review petitions is whether the case presents a substantial constitutional question or a question of great public interest. Also, if there are conflicting judgments of the court of appeals within the state on the same question, the supreme court generally will agree to hear the case in order to resolve the conflict.
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