How to Maximize Your Chances of Winning an Appeal in Indiana

The chances of winning an appeal have been estimated to be somewhere between 10% and 16% (Cornell Law Faculty Publications). That means there is more than an 80% chance of the appellate court upholding the trial court’s decision. With these odds, a party needs to do everything possible to increase the likelihood of success. This blog discusses how to maximize your chances of winning an appeal in Indiana. 

Appellate strategy begins in the trial court. While no one counts on losing, it never hurts to be prepared just in case you do. Because the Court of Appeals does not hold a new trial or allow additional evidence not admitted in the trial court, it is critical to preserve the record on appeal. Preserving the record on appeal means ensuring that each issue was property objected to, the objection is on the record, as well as the adverse decision (reduced to writing or made in open court), and that each hearing is recorded so that a transcript will be available later to submitted to the appellate court (University of North Carolina). The rule of thumb of appellate review is that “if its not on the record, it doesn’t exist” (Legal Talk Network). When making an objection, it must be clear that you disagree with the court’s ruling, and you should include the specific legal grounds for the objection and disagreement. If an objection is overruled, another should be made each time the issue arises through-out the proceedings. 

While protecting the record, keep in mind that transcribing rapid paced questions and answers, what is being said when more than one person is talking, and unintelligible speech is difficult. Oftentimes, transcripts simple note “unintelligible” or the court reporter may even guess what was said based on a faulty recollection. If part of a witnesses testimony is vital to your case, you can always ask the court reporter if they got the answer. Language barriers can also lead to inaccurate transcripts, sometimes even when the witness speaks the same language as the court reporter. One study indicates that transcriber’s accuracy may fall below the required level when a witness is speaking in a different dialect of the same language (Linguistic Society of America). Transcriptionists have reported, as well, that problems arise when a witness answers a question by nodding or shaking their head or saying “uh-huh” or “nuh-uh” instead of speaking aloud with a yes or no answer. If interpreting what a witness means is left to the court reporter, you will likely not get an accurate transcript of what happened in the trial court (Veritext Legal Solutions).

Once your notice of appeal has been filed, you can help maximize your chances of winning by choosing only the most important and legally sound issues to include in your brief. When too many issues are raised, you run the risk of diluting the stronger ones. The Howard court affirmed this strategy when it stated, “selection of proper issues is one of most important parts of appellate advocacy, and too many issues can distract appellate judges from stronger issues” (Howard v. Gramley, 225 F.3d 784, 791 (7th Cir.2000)). The Seventh Circuit has also noted that the “equivalent of a laser light show of claims may be so distracting as to disturb our vision and confound our analysis” (U.S. v. Lathrop, 634 F.3d 931 (7th Cir. 2011)). Identifying many errors, particularly harmless error, does not help to persuade the court (Makiel v. Butler, 782 F.3d 882 (7th Cir. 2015)). It appears from case law that three issues are the most an appellant can include before the court begins seeing dogs and ponies. 

Your brief should include only the relevant facts. The Martin court described this viewpoint quite eloquently when it stated, “the facts involve a rather long and convoluted series of meetings, statements, and transactions, most of which might make for colorful background information about the drug trade in Wisconsin but are not pertinent to the issues on appeal.” (U.S. v. Martin, 287 F.3d 609, 613 (7th Cir. 2002)). Finally, you can maximize your chances of winning on appeal by viewing your brief as a chance to tell a compelling story and not one to write a law review. Avoid the passive language commonly used in the law as much as possible and tell the court how the decision caused prejudice or harm and exactly how you want the issue resolved. 

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. 


Quick Contact

Need to talk now? Fill out the quick form below and we will contact you directly.

What Our Clients Say About Us

Contact Us