If a litigant is dissatisfied with the trial court’s judgment, the litigant can file an appeal. The party who files the appeal is called the appellant; the other party is called the appellee or respondent. This article discusses the steps in the state appellate procedural process.
Notice of Appeal
The procedure for filing the notice of appeal varies from state to state. In some states, the notice of appeal is filed with the trial court. In other states, the notice of appeal is filed in either the appellate court or the appellate court clerk’s office. The time periods for filing a notice of appeal also vary, although many states’ procedural rules provide that the notice of appeal has to be filed within 30 days after the trial court’s judgment in a civil case. The time period for filing a notice of appeal in criminal cases ranges from 10 days after sentencing to 20 to 42 days after judgment. The appellant is responsible for paying any fee that is required when the notice of appeal is filed. However, such fees can be waived if the appellant is an indigent.
Preparation and Content of Record on Appeal
Generally, the content of the appellate record is specified by court rules. The appellate record usually consists of a transcript of the trial court’s proceedings and the original papers and exhibits filed in the trial court, including all pleadings. Some states also require the filing of a certified copy of the docket and the trial court calendar entries. The appellant is responsible for paying the cost of preparing the transcript of the court’s proceedings. Such fees can be waived if the appellant is an indigent. State court rules set the time period during which the appellate record has to be filed, and extensions of time may be granted.
A brief is a memorandum that summarizes the issues presented on appeal. The appellant’s brief points out legal principles that show why the appellate court should reverse or overturn the trial court’s judgment. The appellee’s brief presents legal arguments showing why the trial court’s judgment was correct. The briefs contain references or citations to laws or court decisions. Court rules specify the filing deadline for briefs and the content and format of the briefs.
Amicus Curiae Briefs
Amicus curiae means “friend of the court.” An amicus curiae is not a party to the lawsuit but is a person or group with a strong interest in the matter being litigated. The amicus curiae brings to the appellate court’s attention facts, law, or circumstances in the pending appeal that might not be discussed by the appellant and the appellee. Most state appellate courts permit the filing of amicus curiae briefs.
Dismissal of Appeals
The failure to complete the preparation of the record is a ground for dismissal of an appeal. The appellant can also dismiss his or her own appeal by filing a motion requesting dismissal. Further, the parties can stipulate or agree to the dismissal of the appeal. The appellate court can dismiss an appeal if the appellant fails to file a brief within the time period specified by court rules. Some courts send a notice of default if the appellant’s brief is not filed within time limits. If the default is not cured by filing the brief, the appeal may be dismissed. The appellate court can also impose monetary sanctions for the appellant’s failure to file a brief on time.