Research guides

Pennsylvania Appellate Law and Practice

Where to appeal?

When appealing a case, it is important to know where to appeal.

The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania describes the Pennsylvania court system as "structured like a pyramid with the Supreme Court at the top". More information about the types of cases each court is responsible for can be found at Pacourts.us/learn. There is also a detailed, technical flow chart found on the How the Courts Operate page (see the "References" on the right).

The Pennsylvania Statutes lay out the laws regarding the specific jurisdictions of the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth Courts. These include when a court has original jurisdiction and which appeals a court can or cannot hear. The statutes are available for free online from the Pennsylvania General Assembly. See 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7: Jurisdictions of Appellate Courts.

The Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure may provide additional information. See Pa.R.A.P Chapter 7 (R. 701-751) - Courts to Which Appeals Shall Be Taken.

Additional statutes and court rules may also apply. It may also be beneficial to consult caselaw. See the Court Rules, Statutes, and Caselaw page of this guide for more information.

See below for more detailed information about the resources that may help you decide where to appeal.

Statutes

The Pennsylvania Statutes lay out the laws regarding the specific jurisdictions of the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth Courts. These include when a court has original jurisdiction and which appeals it can or cannot hear. The statutes are available for free online from the Pennsylvania General Assembly. See 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7: Jurisdictions of Appellate Courts. Below are some of the more common appellate scenarios. Please note that additional laws may also apply.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court (42 Pa.C.S. §§ 721 - 727)

        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 721 - Original Jurisdiction
        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 722 - Direct Appeals from Courts of Common Pleas
        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 723 - Appeals from Commonwealth Court
        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 724 - Allowance of Appeals from Superior and Commonwealth Courts

Pennsylvania Superior Court (42 Pa.C.S. §§ 741 - 742)

        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 741 - Original Jurisdiction
        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 742 - Appeals from Courts of Common Pleas

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (42 Pa.C.S. §§ 761 - 764)

        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 761 - Original Jurisdiction
        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 762 - Appeals from Courts of Common Pleas
        • 42 Pa.C.S. § 763 - Direct Appeals from Government Agencies

Research Tip

For additional places to find Pennsylvania Statutes, including in print, on the member database Fastcase, and on the library's Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law computers, see the Pennsylvania Statutes guide.

Court Rules

When participating in a court case, it is important to follow the correct set of court rules. The Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure (Pa.R.A.P.) are freely available online in Title 210 of the Pennsylvania Code. Select rules address where to appeal. Please note that additional rules may also apply.

Pa.R.A.P. Chapter 7 (R. 701-752) - Courts To Which Appeals Shall Be Taken

Research Tip

For additional places to find Pennsylvania Court Rules, including in print and on the library's Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law computers, see the Pennsylvania Court Rules - State guide.

Onsite Print & Electronic

The following print resources include information regarding where to appeal in Pennsylvania. Some resources published by LexisNexis and West/Thomson Reuters may be available on the library's Lexis and Westlaw computers. See below for more information.

The chapters/sections listed below are included as a starting place for that resource. Additional chapters/sections may apply. Consult the index or conduct a search in the resource to find additional material.

Dunlap-Hanna Pennsylvania Forms LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers.
See ┬ž 231.09: Where to Appeal.

Pennsylvania Appellate Practice West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers. Also referred to as Darlington.
See Chapter 7: Courts to Which Appeals Shall Be Taken.