In Indiana, there are about 500 judicial officers, in 300 trial courts throughout the State, handing and/or deciding about 2,000,000 cases pending at any one given time. When a criminal or civil case is decided by a judge or jury, an aggrieved party typically has the constitutional right to appeal the decision.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we observe most litigants have little understanding of appellate courts generally. Unlike television and other shows that somewhat reflect what occurs in trial courts, appellate courts operate mostly outside the court room and receive and decide cases based on written briefs (booklets setting forth each party’s position).
This noted, the proper point of departure to understand the appellate process is with the case to which most appeals proceed: the Indiana Court of Appeals, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Around 4,000 appeals are filed on an annual basis. There are twenty judges and senior judges comprising the Indiana Court of Appeals.
When a case has been fully prepared for a decision (i.e., the briefs are all filed and any oral argument has been conducted), three judges issue a written decision. If they do not all agree, there may be concurrences about the decision, which reflect written views as to legal basis upon which the decision rests. In a smaller number of cases, one judge may disagree and file a written dissent.
In this decision, which may be “For Publication” or a “Memorandum Decision”, the Court of Appeals may affirm the trial court, and leave its decision stand. It may reverse the decision in whole or part (such as if there are different issues). If it reverses, it may remand (send back) the case to the trial court to follow its instructions.
If no action is taken, the For Publication or Memorandum Decision is certified by the Clerk of the Court and is not subject to challenge. If there is a stay, it will typically lift at this time and/or the matter, if reversed, will go back to the trial court. The parties will then follow the decision of the trial court.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys focus a substantial amount of their practice on civil and criminal appeals. If you desire to appeal, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. may be the right legal team to perfect your appeal, brief the matter, and handle any corollary matter, such as oral argument.