How is an Appeal Filed and Decided?

How is an Appeal Filed and Decided?

There are many ways an appeal “begins”, such as with an aggrieved (wronged) party deciding to appeal. However, this does not legally start an appeal. The process has many more steps and is technical. This is why many, if not most, attorneys do not handle appeals. Step one, as alluded to, is determining to appeal. This blog explores how an appeal is filed and decided. 

The point of departure in filing an appeal is locating an appellate attorney who can accept your appeal. The appellate bar is very small, and few attorneys handle appeals. For perspective, there are about 1 million lawsuits filed in Indiana each year in Indiana trial courts and about 3,000 appeals. This thus accounts for how few attorneys handle appeals. Who can handle you case?   

Once you retain appellate counsel, you have to file a Notice of Appeal within thirty days or the right to appeal is forfeited. In other word, your appeal technically begins with filing a Notice of Appeal and paying the $250 filing fee within thirty days of the final order in a domestic case or sentencing (in criminal cases).  

The Notice of Appeal is what lets the Clerk of the Indiana Court of Appeals know you are filing. The Notice of Appeal does much more and notifies the Clerk of the trial court to file the Notice of Completion of the Clerk’s Record, which contains the Chronological Case Summary—this document provides an index of every issue filed in your case and informs the Court of Appeals what transcripts have been requested. 

The Clerk of the trial court has forty-five days to prepare the transcripts. Once filed, this starts the time running for the appellate (the aggrieved party who filed the Notice of Appeal) to review the transcripts, research the issues, and draft and file the Appellant’s Brief. Because of the stakes involved in domestic cases, extensions of time to file are viewed with disfavor and granted only in extraordinary circumstances.  

The Appellate has thirty days to file the appellant’s brief. Once prepared and filed, the appellee has thirty days to file the Appellee’s Brief in response to the allegations and contentions raised in the Appellant’s Brief. Each of these briefs is limited to thirty pages. 

Because the Appellate is the aggrieved party and brought the appeal, he or she has fifteen days to file a Reply Brief which is limited to fifteen pages. Once all of the briefing is completed, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals transfers the briefs and other filed materials (such as the transcript, exhibits, and appendices) to three randomly selected judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals to decide the case. This is called the writing panel.  

Within a few weeks, they will issue a written decision deciding the case based on the briefs. The Court of Appeals can affirm the trial court, affirm in part and reverse in part, or reverse. The Court of Appeals then instructs that trial court how to handle its decision if it reverses some or all of the decision.  

This blog is written by the experienced appellate advocates at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. We hope you find this blog informative on how to perfect and appeal and process leading to its decision. This blog was written by for general educational purposes only. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any specific legal issue or matter. The blog is not advice. This is an advertisement.  


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