In both federal and state courts, a party may appeal only final orders, decisions, or judgments. After the entry of a final order, decision, or judgment, there are strict procedural deadlines as to the number of days within which an appeal must be filed. Grounds for appeal are extremely limited. An order of a court will not be reversed unless the appellant can show that either the order was clearly contrary to law or that the judge abused his or her discretion.
Likewise, there is limited review of trial judgments. It is not generally sufficient to show error in the conduct of trial; the appellant must show harm or prejudice that was caused by the error (for example, the introduction of evidence which the appellant argued was improper and without which the appellant most likely would have prevailed). Appellate courts disregard harmless errors or defects that do not affect the substantial rights of the parties in determining whether a particular case should be reversed. (FRCP 61)