LAW 522-001 – Civil Procedure II

Scope of Review


As a general rule, appellate courts will only correct errors where they are convinced that the error likely changed the outcome of the case.

Questions of law are reviewable de novo.

Questions of facts decided by the court are reviewable for clear error.

Matters of discretion are reviewable for abuse of discretion.

Mixed questions of law and fact and generally reviewed according to the predominate issue's standard.

Clear Error

A finding is clearly erroneous when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.

A judge's choice between two permissible views of the evidence cannot be clearly erroneous.

A jury's determination of facts cannot be reviewed.

  • However, a jury's special verdict can be relied upon to make changes.
Abuse of Discretion

How abuse of discretion is defined will depend on the jurisdiction.

Examples
  • Decision “was based on a clearly erroneous finding of fact or an erroneous conclusion of law or manifests a clear error of judgment”
  • District court “made a clear error of judgment ... or ... applied an incorrect legal standard.”
  • “A definite and firm conviction that the trial court committed a clear error of judgment”
  • "Failing to exercise a sound, reasonable discretion"
  • Decision was "not justified by and clearly against reason and evidence"