Attorney Eric D. Puryear

What to Do When A Judge “Gets it Wrong”

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Law in General » What to Do When A Judge “Gets it Wrong”

Judges can and do make incorrect rulings. Sometimes a judge’s rulings are factually inaccurate, and other times they include legal errors. There are actions that can be taken to when a judge “gets it wrong,” but the time limits are short so it is important to act swiftly.


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A judge can make an erroneous ruling in a divorce, child custody, child support, criminal defense, tort lawsuit, or any other type of case.  Remember, judges are humans complete with all the shortcomings that every other human has.  Years of legal experience as a judge doesn’t change that fact.  It is also a sad but true fact that some judges are biased, unfair, or otherwise conduct themselves in an improper manner that is not in keeping with the oath they took upon becoming judges.

As an attorney I have seen judges in both Illinois and Iowa rule in a manner that was completely wrong under the applicable law – and I have seen such rulings overturned in each state when the appropriate action was taken to challenge those rulings.  That ability to challenge a judge’s ruling by taking the issue to a new set of judges on an appellate or supreme court is an important check and balance upon a judge’s power in our legal system.

The right way to go about challenging a wrong ruling will vary depending upon the type of case, the type of ruling that one wishes to challenge.  Often, challenging an Illinois court order will involve a Motion to Reconsider, and then an Appeal.  In Iowa, it is common to file a Motion to Amend or Enlarge, and then an Appeal.  However, there are certain types of cases where the procedure is different.  Properly raising the issues in such a Motion or Appeal is vital, as failing to do so can prevent even the most erroneous court ruling from being corrected later.


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Timeframes to file such motions and appeals also vary depending upon the state in which the case is pending and the type of case.  The legal system imposes harsh restrictions upon appeals and motions being filed, and missing those deadlines (even with the most sympathetic reason in the world) will not save an untimely motion or appeal from being thrown out by the court.  A person who wishes to challenge an incorrect court ruling is wise to promptly consult with an attorney, as time is of the essence.


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