Trial De Novo Law and Legal Definition

Trial De novo refers to a new trial on the entire case conducted as if there had been no trial in the first instance. De novo is a Latin expression meaning "anew," "from the beginning," "afresh." A trial de novo is usually ordered by an appellate court when the original trial fails to make a determination in a manner dictated by law.

In a trial de novo the appeals court holds a trial as if a prior trial had never been held. A trial de novo is often conducted in appeals from small claims court judgments. A trial de novo may also be ordered on appeals from adminstrative agency decisions or arbitration awards.

One feature that distinguishes an appeal proceeding from a trial de novo is that new evidence may not ordinarily be presented in an appeal, though there are rare instances when it may be allowed usually if it was evidence that only came to light after the trial and could not, in all diligence, have been presented in the lower court. Because of concerns about protecting an individual's rights against double jeopardy ordering a trial "de novo" is often the exclusive right of an appeal judge.