The role of the Indiana Court of Appeals is to handle the majority of appeals from final orders on all issues issued from the trial courts in Indiana’s ninety-two (92) counties. Specifically, the Court of Appeals exists to ensure that the litigants appealing obtained a fair trial in the trial court under the order they are appealing. This blog addresses the Role of the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Indiana, unlike some states, is fortunate to have an intermediate appellate court. This is the court every litigant has the right to appeal to from a final judgment on all issues. The appeal is begun by filing a timely Notice of Appeal under the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure. While there is not written guidance on the specific role of the court of appeals, it is clear from review of its caselaw (and appellate rules), that it exists to ensure that appellants obtained fair trials.
A fair trial does not mean a trial that is one without errors. There are errors in every trial. In other words, even when a trial court abuses its discretion in ruling on the admission of evidence, the Court of Appeals will not reverse the trial court’s judgment if the ruling only amounts to harmless error. Whether or not you obtained a fair trial is a question you can pose to the Indiana Court of Appeals by taking an appeal by timely filing a Notice of Appeal. The Notice of Appeal is the key document that perfects the appeal on any issue you claim was improperly handled by the trial court such that you were not provided with a fair trial.
The Court of Appeals then determines if you were afforded a fair trial by its review of the appeal. If you did not receive a fair trial, it is vested with wide discretion to issue an order to correct same. If the Court of Appeals reverses on the case or an issue, this is its way of providing you with due process and a fair trial.
This noted, it is key to understand the appellate process is not simple. As noted, appeal within thirty (30) days of the ruling is required. Failure to perfect the appeal within this time, forfeits the appeal under Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 9(A)(5). This thirty (30) day period does not include the first day the order was issued as this is not a whole day, nor the last day if it is a weekend or court holiday under Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 25. The appeal is perfected by timely filing the Notice of Appeal under Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 9 (A)(1).
The Notice of Appeal is the key document to the moving forward with the appeal of the adverse judgment and consideration of potential errors by the Court of Appeals of Indiana under Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 9(F). The Notice of Appeal is the “instruction sheet/guide” for the appeal. Once filed, it triggers the Clerk to file the Clerk’s record. The Clerk has thirty (30) days to file the Clerk’s record.
In addition, the Notice of Appeal, directs the trial court reporter as to which hearing dates to transcribe. The trial court reporter has forty-five (45) days to prepare the transcripts. The transcript and exhibits are the materials the Court of Appeals of Indiana primarily relies upon in considering the brief, along with the appendices the Appellant files.
Once the transcript is filed, the appellant has thirty (30) days to research, write and file the Appellant’s Brief. Because custody decision are so important to get right, extensions of time to file a brief are granted only in extraordinary circumstances. After the Appellant’s Brief is filed, the Appellee has thirty (30) days to file the Appellee’s Brief. Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 45(B). Because the Appellate brought the appeal alleging error, the Appellate can file a Reply Brief withing fifteen (15) days.
After the briefing is completed, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals of Indiana transmits the briefs to the judges who will be deciding the case. These are three (3) randomly assigned judges from the Court of Appeals of Indiana (there are 15 judges total). These judges are called the writing panel because they will be writing the decision to affirm, and reverse in part, or reverse the trial court’s decision in the case before it. If the writing panel determined you were not provided with a fair trial, it has vast discretion in how to remedy same. This could include reversal for a new trial.
Thus, the role of the Court of Appeals is to ensure you received a fair trial and remedy the situation if you did not. This blog was written by attorney’s at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. who handle appeals of all final orders as to all issues from trial courts across the state. This blog is written for general educational purposes. It is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. The blog is an advertisement.