Understanding the Three Types of Decisions in New Mexico’s Appellate Court

The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in the state of New Mexico. It’s higher than district courts and some administrative agencies and lower than the New Mexico Supreme Court. 

The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over the whole state and reviews appeals for every type of case, including civil litigation, business litigation, and criminal litigation. The only real exceptions are criminal cases that involve the death sentence or life imprisonment, cases involving habeas corpus, and appeals from the Public Regulation Commission.  

At the Sitterly Law Firm, Nick Sitterly is the experienced appellate attorney in New Mexico you need. His deep understanding of legal principles and court procedures equips him to guide you through the intricacies of the appellate process, enhancing your chances of securing a favorable outcome in your case.

This blog post will take a closer look at the appellate court in New Mexico and review the three different types of decisions you might expect if your case ends up there.

Grounds for Filing an Appeal in New Mexico

An appeal refers to a challenge to a previous legal judgment and is filed by an appellate attorney. The concept behind the appeals process is that it’s directed toward a higher court with the power of appellate review.

 In New Mexico, there are several grounds for filing an appeal.

Errors of Law

This may include allegations that the trial court made legal errors in applying or interpreting the law, including procedural rule violations or misapplications of statutes and case law. 

Evidentiary Errors

Claims that the case’s outcome may have been adversely affected because the court improperly admitted or excluded certain evidence. 

Procedural Errors

Procedural issues that may have denied the appellant a fair trial can include mistakes with jury instructions, improper conduct during the trial, or due process violations.

Judicial Bias or Misconduct

This refers to a judge exhibiting bias or engaging in misconduct during the legal proceedings, which may have influenced the outcome. 

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Claims that the defendant received ineffective assistance from their attorney during the trial, and as a result, their constitutional right to a fair trial was compromised. 

Newly Discovered Evidence

Sometimes, new evidence in a case is discovered after the original trial that may have significantly impacted the results. 

Constitutional Violations

Allegations that constitutional rights, such as the right to a fair trial, were violated during the proceedings. 

Insufficient Evidence

In some cases, it’s apparent that there was insufficient evidence presented during the trial to support the guilty verdict.

3 Types of Appellate Court Decisions

If your case is appealed and argued before an appeals court, there are three potential decisions that may be given. 


An affirmance occurs when the appellate court agrees with and upholds the lower court’s decision. In other words, the appellate court decides the lower court’s judgment or original ruling was correct and should stand. The appellate court may affirm the ruling on the same grounds as the lower court or for different reasons.


A reversal occurs when the appellate court disagrees with the lower court’s decision and overturns it. This typically happens when the appellate court finds errors in the legal reasoning, application of the law, or other significant mistakes in the lower court’s decision. 

Reversals are often dictated as a result of the work of appeals lawyers. A reversal can lead to a modification of the judgment or, in some cases, a remand for further proceedings.


 In some situations, the appellate court may decide to remand the case to the lower court. This means the case is sent back to the trial court for further proceedings. 

A remand could be ordered if the appellate court determines that additional facts are needed or certain issues need to be reconsidered. The remand may come with specific instructions or guidance for the trial court. 

Powers and Limitations of Appellate Courts in New Mexico

Appellate courts in New Mexico, like those in other jurisdictions, have specific powers and limitations. These are to ensure the fair and effective review of lower court decisions while respecting the principles of justice.

The following are some of the powers appellate courts hold:  

  • Reviewing legal issues raised by both parties
  • Evaluating the decision of the lower court
  • Correcting legal errors
  • Applying precedents set by earlier decisions
  • Issuing writs and remedies to correct actions by lower courts
  • Certifying questions to the New Mexico Supreme Court for unresolved issues


Below are a few ways these courts are limited:

  • Inability to re-weigh evidence or make new factual determinations
  • Not considering new evidence discovered since the trial case
  • Having a limited role in reviewing plea bargains 


Connect With a Skilled Appeal Attorney in New Mexico at the Sitterly Law Firm 

At the Sitterly Law Firm, you can eliminate the need for multiple specialized lawyers. Nick Sitterly is an Albuquerque appellate lawyer with a proven track record when it comes to the appeal process. His extensive legal expertise and experience enable him to handle even the most complex issues effectively.

The firm’s approach of handling fewer cases allows for focused and personal attention, ensuring you receive a tenacious advocate dedicated to achieving a positive outcome in your case. Trust Nick Sitterly to deliver legal advice tailored to your unique needs.

Contact the Sitterly Law Firm today and schedule a consultation for comprehensive legal counsel that prioritizes your interests.