Sunday, February 18, 2007

What to do if we do not like the court’s decision: Appeals

Trial courts make mistakes. Because courts make mistakes there is what we call the appellate process. Appeals are a bit more complicated and this is the barest outline about appealing a case. I am writing this from the perspective of the party doing the appeal. The not doing the appeal

First, the Court of Appeals and Indiana Supreme Court do not have trials but only pass judgment on how the trial judge’s applied the law to our facts. That is, the judge incorrectly applied the law to the facts of the case or that there are no facts supporting the trial judge’s judgment. The appellate courts will not do anything if our complaint is only how the trial judge judged the evidence. Sounds a bit like splitting hairs but just remember if there is any evidence supporting the trial judge, the appellate courts will find no error in the trial judge’s work.

Second, there are no trials before the Court of Appeals or Indiana Supreme Court, we just file what are called Briefs. In our Brief we write how the trial judge erred in applying the law to our case.

Lastly, appeals take time and have pretty rigid rules about time, too. As soon as we get the Decree of Dissolution, we need to consider whether to appeal or not. Thirty (30) days after the date of the Decree, we must file a Notice of Appeal. Then ninety (90) days after that, the clerk is to have the transcript of the hearing ready for filing with the Court of Appeals. Then thirty (30) days after that, we need to file our Brief and then the other party has thirty (30) days to file their Brief, and we can file a Reply Brief thirty (30) days after that. So far there is 210 days involved in the appeal. The time increases waiting for an opinion from the Court of Appeals.

Filing an appeal also means an additional cost in the shape of a filing fee with the Court of Appeals.

What you need to understand most is that the case does not necessarily end with the trial judge.

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