Abuse of discretion

June 3, 2024

It is a term used to describe a situation where a trial judge has made a significant error, either by going against reason and evidence or by violating established law, resulting in an unfair trial. An appellate court may use this finding to overturn the trial court’s decision. Examples include preventing a crucial witness from testifying, making improper remarks that could influence a jury, displaying bias, or making evidence rulings that hinder a fair presentation of a case. This doesn’t mean the trial or judge must be flawless, but the judge’s actions must be so egregious that they compromise the fairness of the trial. Occasionally, appellate courts acknowledge a judge’s mistake but deem it insufficient to have affected the trial’s outcome, often frustrating the losing party. In criminal cases, this can involve excessively harsh sentences, while in divorce cases, it might mean awarding alimony far beyond the established guidelines or the payer’s ability to comply.


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