Q: how do I read appeals
A: In terms of actually reading them, you just read them. I’m not sure how else to put that.
In terms of finding them, there are a number of online resources. The better ones, Westlaw and Lexis, you have to pay for. But sites like this one, and google scholar will give anyone some access. You can also go to your nearest public law library for assistance.
In terms of understanding them, 3 years or law school would be best. But the most important thing to remember is that they only decide the issues directly before them based on the facts of the case before them. They say a lot of stuff that’s really background, and it can be difficult for lay people in particular to determine if the particular case they’re reading addresses their issue and remains good law. Appeals get reversed too, so you should be suspicious of anything old. It’s up to the person arguing a new appeal to explain how their case is the same and/or different than the cases on which prior decisions are based.
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