A party who is not happy with the final outcome of their case is entitled to appeal the decision to one of Indiana’s appellate courts. Filing an appeal requires knowing when and how to file, and which court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal. This blog explores filing an appeal in Indianapolis and what you need to know.
When taking an appeal from a final judgment, a party must first determine which appellate court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Tax matters concerning decisions made by the Indiana Department of Revenue or the Board of Tax Review should all be appealed to the Indiana Tax Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over cases arising under Indiana tax laws (Indiana Tax Court). Appeals involving the death penalty or life without parole, those where a statute is declared unconstitutional, or ones involving a waiver of consent to abortion fall under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Supreme Court (Ind. App. R. 4). All other appeals, including those that are not from a final judgment, are within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals (Ind. App. R. 5). Once the appropriate court has been selected, a notice of appeal must be filed with both the appellate and trial court within 30 days of the date of the decision being appealed (Ind. App. R. 9(A)(1)). Upon filing the notice of appeal with the appellate court, a filing fee of $250 must be paid (Ind. App. R. 9(E)).
The notice of appeal should include the dates of any hearings or trials held that the appellant, or one filing the appeal, wishes to have transcribed. The court reporter will then contact the appellant in order to work out payment arrangements for the transcript and collect a downpayment of not more than 50% of the total estimated cost of the transcript (Ind. App. R. 9 (H)). The transcript is due 45 days after the reporter receives the notice of appeal and will be filed with the appellate court once it has been completed (Ind. App. R. 11(B)). A transcript is necessary in order for the appellate court to properly review the case and determine if any errors were committed that may require a reversal of the trial court’s decision. It is also used by both the appellant and appellee in preparing their briefs for the court.
The appellant’s brief is due 30 days after the transcript is filed with the appellate court (Ind. App. R. 45(B)(1)(a)). A party’s brief is the most important part of the appeal, as it tells the appellate court what the basis of the appeal is, or what issue(s) a party has with the trial court’s decision, and why the trial court is wrong. The appellate court will review the case under the standard of appeal that applies to the issue(s) being appealed. The most common standards of review in family law cases are abuse of discretion and clearly erroneous. A decision is clearly erroneous if the facts do not support the findings or the findings do not support the order. If a review of the record leaves the appellate court convinced that the findings are obviously wrong, and a mistake has occurred, it will reverse the decision of the trial court (Gilles v. M.M.G., No. 23A-PO-1255 (Ind. App. Oct. 10, 2023)). When the trial judge has discretion in making a decision, an abuse of that discretion will be found if there is no rational basis for the trial court’s determination (Shattuck v. Shattuck, No. 22A-DC-2731 (Ind. App. Sep. 29, 2023)). Once both parties briefs have been filed, oral arguments may be heard if either party requested oral argument, or the court sets arguments on its own motion (Ind. App. R. 52(A)).
During oral arguments, each party is allowed a specific amount of time and may set aside any part of that time for rebuttal of the other party’s argument once it has been heard (Ind. App. R. 53(A)). Each side is commonly given 20 to 30 minutes (Court of Appeals of Indiana). It is not uncommon for the judges to interrupt a party making an argument in order to ask questions, sometimes about an issue which is not being discussed at the moment. It is therefore very important for a party to be fully prepared for oral arguments before the appellate court. After briefs have been filed and oral arguments heard, if requested, the court will then issue a written opinion, either affirming or reversing the trial court’s final order, and explaining why it did so. The court attempts to issue opinions within four months, however, there is no time limit for it to decide a case (Indiana Judicial Branch Court of Appeals).
A party who is unhappy with the decision of the Indiana court of appeals may request a rehearing (Ind. App. R. 54) or file a petition to transfer the case to the Indiana Supreme Court (Ind. App. R. 57(A)). The Supreme Court has complete discretion when accepting or denying transfer of a case from the court of appeals (Ind. App. R. 57(H)). Principle considerations governing the grant of transfer include court of appeal decisions which conflict with previous decisions from the same court or from the Indiana Supreme Court, decisions regarding questions of federal law which conflict with federal court decisions, issues of first impression, or significant departures from well settled law (Ind. App. R. 57(H)). Cases involving these issues will likely be transferred. Generally speaking, all others will not and a denial of a request for rehearing or unsatisfactory outcome of a rehearing ends the case, as no other appeals are available.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.