What is a Final Order?
In the US legal system, a final order is an order by a court disposing of all the issues in a case and resulting in a decision for one of the parties. The importance of a final order procedurally is that it allows for an appeal of the court’s decision. A final judgment order is entered at the conclusion of a trial or hearing. After entry of a final order in a case, the court retains jurisdiction over the matter for thirty days to hear any motions to contest the validity of its order or to reconsider it.
During the course of a trial many orders which are referred to as “interim” orders may be entered. These orders address specific issues about the case. These issues arise when the parties file motions asking the judge to do things like allow or keep out certain kinds of evidence at trial, to lower or increase bail in a criminal case, to appoint experts, or to compel the other side to make documents available. These interim orders are not final orders because they do not dispose of the entire case.
When the judge has reached a decision in case and entered judgment, the order is “final” for procedural purposes, but may not be the last order entered by the court. Following entry of the final judgment order, the parties may ask the court to reconsider some aspects of the decision. A party may also ask the court to grant a new trial based on errors in the court’s rulings on any interim motions. These motions must be made within thirty days of the court’s final decision.
Once orders are entered on any motions regarding trial errors, a party wishing to appeal has thirty days to file a notice of appeal. An appeals court consists of a panel of three judges. These judges review the decisions of the trial court. The court of appeals can reverse the trial court and decide in favor of the appealing party, affirm that the trial court’s decision was correct, or send the case back to the trial court with instructions for doing something different in the case.
Administrative law judges also enter final orders in cases involving public agencies and their regulatory powers. These cases can involve denial of government benefits, revocation or denial of licenses granted by the state, and other matters. Appeal from a final order in an administrative hearing is made to a state trial court. Rules for further appeals are the same as those for a case that originated in a trial court.
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