Appellate Law

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Appellate Overview

There are few things harder in life to deal with than losing some or all issues in your divorce case that you expected to win. A loss typically means appeal. In this situation, it is key to remember that you have the right to appeal your case to the Indiana Court of Appeals. However, because finality of a judge’s order is a fundamental principal of law (the legal system is designed to settle disputes, not have them drag on and on), it is important to remember that you only have a short time to perfect your appeal. A proper Notice of Appeal must be filed within thirty days of the issuance of the final order. Sometimes there are multiple orders that need to be identified and appealed. The firm works with its appellate clients to clarify what needs to be done to perfect the appeal.

For domestic appeals, it is very important to also retain counsel who can dedicate the time to this sensitive matter as extensions of time are only granted in extraordinary circumstances. If there are no extensions by the clerk or court reporter, the transcripts and exhibits will be completed and filed within forty-five days. This starts the thirty days running to review the transcript and exhibits, research the issues and draft a final appellate brief to file with the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Appellant’s Brief argues all of the issues of merit you want to raise on appeal. From this, the appellee has thirty days to prepare and file the Appellant’s brief. Ultimately, the Appellant gets the last “say” and can file the Appellant’s Reply Brief within fifteen days. After this, the Court of Appeals will decide your case and issue a written opinion, which may be published or a memorandum opinion

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What Makes Us Unique

Ciyou & Associates, P.C. is uniquely qualified to handle your domestic appeal, having researched, written, and filed more than 175 appeals, ranging from family law to criminal law. This niche area of the law requires meticulous attention to detail, a talent for drafting compelling legal briefs, and the ability to think quickly on your feet during oral appellate oral arguments. We invite you to explore whether you have grounds to appeal a lower court decision relating to custody, equitable distribution of property, child or spousal support, or other family law matters. This diverse appellate experience gives the Ciyou & Associates, P.C. team the expertise to spot and argue issues you may not have even thought about. Mr. Ciyou’s appellate cases have literally clarified or changed Indiana’s domestic law. See Fuchs V. Martin and Coohon V. Coohoon.

Mr. Ciyou has orally argued several cases before the Court of Appeals of Indiana, Indiana Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the federal appellate court where all appeals are taken from Indiana’s Northern and Southern District federal trial courts. Ciyou & Associates, P.C. attorneys have the experience to handle the most complex appeals. The firm’s appellate attorneys are also admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court and have sought certiorari in this court, the highest in the Nation. We are zealous advocates and skilled attorneys with a winning track record in big cases. Family law matters and domestic appeals require foresight, creativity, and strategic thinking – not a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. Rest assured that your appeal will tell your story, so you know you have taken every possible step to ensure your children’s best interests are protected.

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Appellate Practice FAQ's

There is no set cost for an appeal. There are less than 4,000 appeals filed a year, which is a small number compared to a million plus cases filed in Indiana trial courts. The cost depends on the number of issues, novelty of the issues, and a variety of other factors. A typical appeal may range/average between $10,000 to $50,000.

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A trial lawyer spends his or her days inside a courtroom trying cases through witness testimony and cross-examination of witnesses for the opposing side, along with the offering and objection to exhibits. An appellate lawyer does not work inside the courtroom but instead makes your arguments to three (3) judges assigned to your case in the Court of Appeals of Indiana. An appellate brief is basically a written book that tells your story and why the trial court erred in its ruling. 

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In domestic cases, a trial court may order a party to pay appellate fees. However, the vast majority of appeals are paid for by the appellate or appellee. Appeals are tedious, time-consuming for appellate attorneys, and correspondingly, expensive. 

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Trial lawyers work in the courts in Indiana’s ninety-two counties. Appellate attorneys work from their office and make your case in writing for why the trial court’s decision is erroneous and should be reversed. The two (2) roles are as different as day is from night. 

Becoming a skilled appellate attorney comes with experience in briefing appeals. Ultimately, defining what is a ‘good’ appellate attorney is very subjective; that said, a hallmark of a good appellate attorney is found in your review of your brief—it should vividly tell your story and why the trial court erred and should be reversed under Indiana law. 

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The appellate process begins with filing a Notice of Appeal. From there the transcript and exhibits are prepared and briefs written by the appellant and appellee. When all briefing is completed, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals of Indiana transmits the briefs to the three judges who will review the briefs and decide the case and issue a written decision. These three judges are called the “writing panel”.

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Appeals based on pure question of fact, like who the trial court believed, are difficult to win because the fact finder saw their verbal and non-verbal communication and decided who was more believable. The Court of Appeals simply cannot do this with a paper record. However, mixed questions of fact and law are reviewed under a different standard of review and easier to prevail on appeal. With questions of law or constitutional challenges, the trial court is afforded no deference and the cases are reviewed by the appellate judges de novo

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The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court that reviews most appeals—few proceed to the Indiana Supreme Court. Their job is to ensure that, overall, the parties obtained a fair and just trial by a neutral factfinder.

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In every case where a final order is issued as to all matters, there is the right to appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The aggrieved (or losing party) must file a Notice of Appeal within thirty (30) days or the appeal is forfeited.

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Yes. There are two primary ways the Court of Appeals decision can be appealed. The first is to ask this Court of Appeals to rehear the case. The second way to appeal is to seek transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court. A party has thirty days to seek rehearing and forty-five days to seek transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court if rehearing was not sought. 

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A trial court decides the case issues between the parties. The appellate court reviews the trial court’s decision to make sure it accurately applied the law to the facts. If the trial court did not, the Court of Appeals will reverse unless it is a harmless error. 

A ruling can only be appealed one time. The entire point of the legal system is to resolve disputes once and for all so the parties can move on with their lives or business. However, if an issue is reversed and remanded to the trial court, that later ruling in the trial court may be appealed in certain cases. 

To properly perfect an appeal, a timely notice must be filed. The Notice of Appeal must be filed within thirty (30) days, or the appeal is forfeited. 

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The criminal and civil appeals process generally take around six (6) months to get a decision. With extensions, which may be necessary with a long trial, this time can be significantly longer. 

No. Appellate counsel is limited to appealing the issues raised at trial. Raising new issues on appeal raises the possibility of procedural and/or substantive bad faith and appellate counsel will thus not present new issues on appeal. 

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All appeals in Indiana are perfected the same way. Assuming your parenting time case is final as to all issues, you must file a Notice of Appeal in the Indiana Court of Appeals. This Notice of Appeal must be filed within thirty (30) days or the right to appeal is forfeited, and the trial court’s order stands. 

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An effective appellate brief is one in which the appellant reads and knows their story is told; and with their story, it is clear how the trial court reached an erroneous ruling. 

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During trials, judges make many rulings. A few may be appealed as interlocutory appeals, but these are very rare. Most appeals are filed when the trial court issues its order as to all issues pending before the court. 

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Under the controlling United States Supreme Court, ineffective assistance of counsel requires a showing that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different (i.e., in other words, there would not have been a conviction).

Criminal and civil appeals probably average about six months. However, with a serious conviction and/or a lengthy jury trial, the appeal may have several extensions and take much longer to get a decision from the Court of Appeals. 

As with all appeals, there is only one appeal. However, assuming the convicted sought transfer to the highest court in the state, the Indiana Supreme Court, there are other remedies available to criminal defendants that could result in appeal, such as post-conviction relief. Criminal defendants have more rights to challenge their conviction that a civil litigant does because criminal conviction results in loss of freedom and stripping of core constitutional rights, such as the right to vote.

A Court of Appeals decision is binding if rehearing or transfer is not sought. Once the time passes for rehearing and transfer, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals of Indiana or Indiana Supreme court will certify back to the trial court the appellate decision and the trial court resumes jurisdiction. 

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