Not all trials are successful. Sometimes a judge excludes a piece of evidence that you wanted to introduce. Other times a judge may interpret a statute or case law in a manner that is different than what you understand. The result can be a final order that is not what you wanted.
Fortunately, there is a recourse for those who are disappointed with a trial judge’s decision, that is, an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court will not “re-try” the case, they will examine the “record” carefully and, if they believe the trial judge made a mistake, they will send the case back to the trial court (called a “remand”) so that the error can be corrected.
However, before the Supreme Court will help you, you must show that Court you “preserved” the issue for their review. Issue preservation means that you brought the error to the attention of the trial court in a proper manner, and the trial court was given the opportunity to correct that error before the appeal was filed. Absent very limited circumstances, the Supreme Court will not consider an issue that is being argued for the first time in an appeal, no matter how compelling or important you believe it to be.
How to preserve your case for appeal in New Hampshire
There are many ways of making sure your issues are preserved, but perhaps the best way to do so is a “motion to reconsider.” A motion to reconsider is a pleading that is filed no later than 10 days after the order is issued and is intended to point out to the trial court the errors it may have made. The trial court will then read the order, and, if it agrees with the moving party’s arguments, correct its decision.
A motion to reconsider has several specific rules, including a page limit, and limitations on what types of arguments and evidence can be presented with the motion. Most important, the 10-day time limit is taken very seriously, and a trial court is authorized to reject a late-filed motion. If the motion is late, there is a very good chance that, on appeal, the Supreme Court will determine the issues and arguments made in that late-filed motion are not preserved for appeal.
Consult with a New Hampshire Appeals Lawyer
If you have received an order from the court that you disagree with, it is important that you consult with an appellate attorney as soon as possible to see if you have any recourse through a motion to reconsider. Even if the attorney cannot draft the motion for you due to time limits, the lawyer may give you some ideas as to how to prepare a motion to reconsider so that your arguments can be preserved for an appeal. Contact our firm to see if one of our experienced lawyers can help.