Main Content

Civil Procedure 2022


The prior units traced the steps of a civil action in a trial court. This unit briefly focuses on how appeals work, with a focus on the federal system.


14.1 The Final Judgment Rule (and Built-In Exceptions) introduces you to the basic rule for when an appeal may be taken in the federal system. According to 28 U.S.C. § 1291: “The courts of appeals (other than the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) shall have jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of the district courts of the United States…” The basic rule is that parties may only appeal final judgments. What does that mean? You will learn this—alongside a series of exceptions “built-in” to the rule by statute or other means via the Liberty Mutual Insurance Co v. Wetzel case and accompanying materials. We will also contrast the final judgment rule with the different approaches of some states—New York state will be our comparator. The federal approach, even with its exceptions, is stricter in terms of when appeals may be taken.


14.2 The Collateral Order Doctrine briefly introduces a second narrow route to getting a case before a federal appellate court, the collateral order doctrine, which has been developed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its case law.


14.3 Mandamus: Beyond appellate review, you can also petition for “extraordinary writs.” One such writ, a writ of mandamus, is a third way to get before an appellate court. I will give a brief lecture on the topic, but have provided you with an entirely OPTIONAL reading if you want to learn more.


14.4 Standard of Review and Timing on Appeal briefly teaches you the time limit for filing an appeal (covered in Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)) and also teaches you a little about the various “standards of review” courts apply for different kinds of questions on appeal.