I recently received my first criminal docket at the Court of Appeals. The defendant appeals his conviction, which would put him in jail for a very long time. Unfortunately, he's not likely to go anywhere. Everyone gets a shot at the appellate level, but rarely does our court reverse the trial court's decision. Maybe five percent of the cases get remanded. But that's probably an arbitrary number that just popped into my head. I have yet to see a reversible error come across my desk.
Criminal appeals tend to raise points of error based on ineffective counsel, legal insufficiency, factual insufficiency, or some procedural mistake (such as improper jury instructions). I'm not familiar with the standard of review for ineffective counsel because I haven't had to look into. However, when someone argues legal or factual insufficiency, the appellate court looks to see if there was any basis for the jury to reach its conclusion. If the someone says violet and the answer was purple ... that's close enough.
No one ever knows what really happened, and if he did, he would be witness. Rather, the jury is afforded a degree of leniency to infer the truth. Who's to say an appellate judge and a cadre of staff attorneys are better suited to weigh the credibility of testimonies and evidence than a panel of tried-and-true jurors. After all, there's only so much the appellate court can do. Otherwise, why not just ask for a new trial. Oh wait, they probably didn't ask for one.