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(juridical), one of the forms of appealing judicial decisions that have not become res judicata in criminal and civil proceedings.
In the appeal procedure, the next higher court examines the merits of the decision of a lower court, reviewing anew the investigation of the evidence presented in the case and any new evidence that may be presented. After this, the higher court will either affirm the appealed decision or, having reversed it, will render a new decision. This distinguishes an appeal from a cassation, which means in bourgeois states that a higher court cannot render a new decision but can only cancel the appealed decision or direct the lower court to retry the case. In an appeal, a court’s decision is reviewed not merely in terms of isolated procedures but on the merit of the case as a whole—including the guilt or innocence of the defendant, the punitive measure, the recovery or dismissal, and the amount sought in the suit. The decision resulting from an appeal procedure is usually subject to a cassation appeal (with a few exceptions).
The appeal form developed in France during the period of the consolidation of absolutism, since an appeal made it possible to transfer a case from the courts of the local feudal lords to royal courts. In bourgeois states, as a rule, all judicial decisions can be appealed, aside from jury trials and such exceptions as court-martials. Only in Great Britain, by a law passed in 1907, are appeals of jury verdicts allowed. Moreover, in reviewing a case, the appellate court has the right to make worse the position of the parties—for example, by increasing the punitive measure. The introduction of appeals of decisions arising out of jury trials in Great Britain was a departure even from the bourgeois-democratic foundations of the judicial process, since the jury trial in bourgeois countries is the sole form of the general population’s participation in administration of justice. Under an appeal system, the center of proceedings is shifted to the appellate court. This essentially limits the importance of the courts of first instance, which are usually more accessible to the population from the point of view of publicity of the judicial proceedings.
In the USSR, the appeal procedure was abolished by the First Decree on the Courts of Nov. 22, 1917, since it was regarded as an institution that could not be conducive to the consolidation of the authority of the new people’s courts. In contemporary Soviet procedure there are only isolated elements of appeal procedure. For example, article 46 of the Fundamentals of Civil Procedure of the USSR and the Union Republics (1961) allows the next higher court to render a new decision if the case requires no gathering or additional checking of evidence and the circumstances of the case were fully and correctly established by the court of first instance but some error in applying the law has occurred. Such a formulation does not undermine the authority and importance of decisions rendered by lower courts, primarily by raion or city people’s courts—the basic units of the Soviet judicial system. The form of appealing court decisions in the USSR is that of cassation.
T. N. DOBROVOL’SKAIA.