In all civil and criminal cases in Indiana, an appeal of right may be taken from a final order or judgement issued by the trial court. Final orders and judgments are those that resolve all issues, effectively ending the case. Any other decision made by the trial court must be appealed via an interlocutory appeal, which follows a slightly different process, and in some cases, requires the trial court’s permission to appeal the decision before a final order is issued. This blog examines the steps to file an appeal in Indiana and offers a comprehensive guide as to what exactly each step entails.
The first step in an appeal is to prepare the notice of appeal. The Indiana Office of Judicial Administration provides a notice of appeal form and instructions for completing the form can be found under content of notice of appeal in the Rules of Appellate Procedure (Ind. R. App. P. 9(F)). When completing the notice, special attention must be paid to the title and date of the judgment being appealed and the attachments to be included with the notice. It needs to be clear to the appellate court what judgment is being appealed, therefore it is very important that the title and date are listed accurately and that the judgment is attached to the notice.
The request for transcript section of the notice of appeal must also be precise in describing the hearings and/or trial dates for which a transcript is requested in order to ensure that the appellate court has a complete record of the evidence. When evidence is missing from the record on appeal, the appellate court will not take a parties word for what the missing evidence shows. Testimonial evidence can be submitted to the court of appeals only through a transcript of the hearing or trial where it was presented, and so it is vital that the notice of appeal contain accurate dates for which transcripts should be prepared and filed with the appellate court.
Finally, when completing the notice of appeal, the rules of appellate procedure govern to which court an appeal shall be taken, and provide that if the issue involves a sentence of death or life imprisonment, a state or federal statute having been declared unconstitutional, or the granting or denial of a waiver of parental consent to terminate a pregnancy, the appeal should be taken directly to the Indiana Supreme Court (Ind. R. App. P. 4(A)). The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over all other appeals (Ind. R. App. P. 5).
Once the notice of appeal is completed and the proper documents attached, the next step is to file the notice with the appropriate courts. The notice must be filed within 30 days of the issuance of the judgement or order being appealed, and both the trial court and the appellate court designated in the notice should receive a copy. When filing the notice with the appellate court, a filing fee of $250 will be due (Ind. R. App. P. 9(E)).
The third step to file an appeal in Indiana is to pay the court reporter to prepare and file the transcript(s) requested in the notice of appeal. Generally, a deposit of one-half the estimated total cost of preparation will be charged upfront, with the outstanding balance due upon completion of the transcript(s). The initial deposit and any agreement on payment of the remaining balance must be made within ten days of filing the notice of appeal (Ind. R. App. P. 9(H)). The transcript must be filed with the appellate court within 45 days of the trial court’s receipts of the notice of appeal, unless the court reporter requests, and is granted, an extension of time.
Once the clerk’s record (a certified copy of the CCS) and the transcript, along with any documentary evidence has been filed with the appellate court, the appellant has 30 days from the date of receipt of the clerk’s notice of completion of transcript (Ind. R. App. 45) to complete the fourth step in the appeal process, which is preparing and filing the appellant’s brief. A parties’ brief is the main part of an appeal. It is where important evidence that the trial court may have misunderstood or jumbled, can be highlighted and any misapplications of the law may be argued. Each fact contended in a brief must be supported by a piece of evidence that is cited (or referred to) such as an exhibit or page and line in the transcript, and be included in the statement of facts section of the brief (Ind. R. App. 46(A)(6)). Legal arguments must be presented in a concise and logical format, citing rules, statutes, and case law as appropriate. The brief must contain several sections, including, but not limited to a table of contents, table of authorities, statement of issues, summary of arguments, and conclusion, as well as be formatted using specific font type and sizes, margins, headings and sub-headings, and headers and footers. This is not an easy task and requires meticulous attention to detail.
The last step to an appeal, unless oral arguments were requested, is to wait for the other party to file it’s brief, which is due 30 days after service of the appellant’s brief, and then wait for a decision from the court. While there is no deadline for the court to issue its opinion, a party can usually expect one within about four months of filing the appeal (Indiana Judicial Branch).
While there are many online self help guides for those who wish to do their own appeal, writing a brief generally requires the knowledge and experience of an appellate attorney. It cannot be assumed that the court already knows the law, as it very well may not. The appellant brief should walk the court through the law, leading it to the logical and proper conclusion. Depending on the issues in the case, this can be a complex and difficult undertaking. If you are considering filing an appeal in Indiana, the attorney at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help ensure that deadlines are all met and your best argument made.
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.