In Indiana State Trial Court, When Can a Losing Party Appeal?

In Indiana State Trial Court, When Can a Losing Party Appeal?

Unlike some states with a low overall population, Indiana is large enough and fortunate enough to have an intermediate appellate court: the Court of Appeals of Indiana.1 The court of last resort, or highest court in Indiana, is the Indiana Supreme Court. A party who loses can take his case as a matter of right to the Court of Appeals of Indiana. This blog explores a losing party taking their case to the Court of Appeals of Indiana.

The point of departure with losing and appealing is to recognize that the trial court may make dozens of rulings in a complex domestic case. Or for that fact, in any civil or criminal case. These rulings during a case are called interlocutory orders and cannot be appealed, unless there is an automatic right to an interlocutory appeal, such as for the payment of money, or the trial court certifies the issue/order for appeal and the Court of Appeals accepts the discretionary interlocutory appeal.2

A common case where a trial court may certify an interlocutory order for appeal is a denial of a motion to suppress in a criminal case. This is for the exercise of speedy, cost-effective justice and because if the Court of Appeals reverses the case is likely over.3 A suppression of key evidence in a criminal trial likely means the prosecution cannot move forward with the prosecution. This saves a long jury trial and limited judicial resources. Remember, the trial courts in Indiana’s ninety-two counties manage over a million cases a year.4

When a trial court issues its final order on all issues, such as its decree of dissolution of marriage, this can be appealed as a matter of right to the Court of Appeals of Indiana. Very few cases go directly to the Indiana Supreme Court unless set forth by the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure or it is an area where the Indiana Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction, such as the practice of law.5

Thus, a losing party can appeal a final decree of dissolution of marriage. A party in a CHINS case can appeal the disposition (this is what the final order is titled). In a criminal case, the convicted can appeal after sentencing. Thus, while appeal to the Court of Appeals of Indiana provides for an appeal as a matter of right, the appeal must be timely filed, or the appeal is forfeited. And the trial court’s final order or conviction stands.

To perfect an appeal, a party must timely file an accurate Notice of Appeal within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the final order.6 Attorneys count days differently than most people, and the day the order is issued does not count, as it is not a complete day. The day the Notice of Appeal is due is extended if it falls on a weekend or court-recognized holiday.7 Filing the Notice of Appeal on the last day to file is a mistake and a sure-fire way to forfeit the appeal if the computation of days is wrong.

Filing an accurate and complete Notice of Appeal (along with the $250 filing fee) is critical because it does many things; this filing provides notice to the Clerk, he/she will have to timely file a Notice of Completion of Clerk’s Record and Court Reporter as to which days of hearing the transcript is needed for the appeal. It is common to have several different hearings transcribed, such as the preliminary hearing in a domestic case.

Ultimately, there is the right to appeal any loss contained in a final order as to all issues to the Court of Appeals of Indiana, so long, again, as it is timely perfected. Ciyou & Associates advocates have handled hundreds of appellate filings and briefs. Perhaps we are a good fit to be your appellate counsel? This blog is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates. The blog is written for general informational and educational purposes. It is not intended to be relied upon for any specific legal issue or matter. The blog is not legal advice. It is an advertisement.

  1. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 4 and 9.
  2. Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 14.
  3. Malone v. State, 882 N.E.2d (2008).
  4. Indiana Judicial Service Report
  5. Under Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure, the Indiana Supreme Court has jurisdiction in review of (1) criminal cases in which the sentence of death is imposed or life imprisonment without parole; (2) appeals of final judgment declaring a state or federal statute unconstitutional in whole or part; (3) appeals involving waiver of parental consent to abortion; and (4) appeals involving the mandate of funds under certain trial rules. Further, the Indiana Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over (1) admission to the practice of law; (2) the practice of law; (3) the discipline of judges; and (4) the issuance of writs of mandate or prohibition.
  6. Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.
  7. Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 25.

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