What Is the Appellate Process?

What Is the Appellate Process in Indiana?

In general terms, the appellate process is nothing more than having your trial court final order reviewed by a higher Court. This is a right, and the appeal is taken to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals of Indiana is located in Indianapolis and is comprised of fifteen (15) judges. The appellate process starts by an aggrieved party filing a timely Notice of Appeal.

The Notice of Appeal is the key document to 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” to 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, to the Notice of Appeal. It 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. 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 (and the various materials submitted with the brief).

The decisions of the Court of Appeals of Indiana may be memorandum decisions or published decisions. A published decision means that the case had some point of law important enough to “publish” it so it may be relied upon by other appellants (and trial attorneys and judges) as the current state of the law in the future.

If an Appellate/Appellee does not obtain relief they seek on an appeal, he or she has thirty (30) days to ask the Court of Appeals of Indiana to reconsider its decision. If rehearing is not sought, then the Appellate or Appellee has forty-five (45) days to ask the Indiana Supreme Court to grant transfer and decide the case. This is totally discretionary, and after briefing, the Indiana Supreme Court decides if it will grant transfer of the case and decide the matter.

Ultimately, unless the Supreme Court grants transfer, the decision of the Court of Appeals of Indiana will stand and decide the case; it will be binding and enforceable once certified back to the trial court under Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure 65(E). Thus, a party who does not prevail in the trial court in their child custody case has the right to appeal. The key is the appeal is timely perfected.

This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. who handle appeals of all final judgments. This blog is written for general educational purposes. The blog is not to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. This blog is not legal advice. The blog is an advertisement. We hope this blog helps you understand the appellate process.


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