“I want to appeal!” is a statement we hear often. However, many individual’s knowledge of appeals is very limited. This is understanding, as the appeals process can be a long and confusing one, even for attorneys. Whether it be an appeal of a custody order or a criminal conviction, having a basic understanding of appeals will go a long way in being successful in your case. In this blog, we look at four things to know about appeals in Indiana.
You Must Have an Appealable Order. The first thing to know about appeals in Indiana is that, before you can appeal, you must have an appealable order. You may be thinking to yourself, “but aren’t all orders appealable?” Unfortunately, no; and before you can begin the appeals process, you must have an appealable order. The importance of having an appealable order is that the Court of Appeals will not have jurisdiction to rule unless the order is appealable. There are two basic scenarios giving the Court of Appeals jurisdiction to rule1 (meaning you will have an appealable order). First, you will have an appealable order if your order is considered to be a final judgement. Second, you will have an appealable order if your order is an interlocutory order. If your order meets either of these requirements, you have an appealable order.
Final Orders and Interlocutory Orders. The next thing to know about appeals in Indiana is that you can appeal both final orders and interlocutory orders. An order is final if: (1) it disposes of all claims as to all parties; (2) the trial court in writing expressly determines that there is no just reasons for delay and in writing expressly directs the entry of judgment; (3) it is deemed final under trial rule 60(c); (4) it is a ruling on either a mandatory or permissive Motion to Correct Error; or (5) it is otherwise deemed final by law.2 If you have a final order, you will be able to appeal immediately. An interlocutory order, on the other hand, is one that disposes of some, but not all, of the issues. In some circumstances, you will be allowed to appeal this interlocutory order as a matter of right, meaning you are entitled to an immediate appeal.3 An example of an interlocutory appeal as of right would be a court order directing you to pay a sum of money. In other circumstances, you may be able to appeal an interlocutory order at the discretion of the court, called discretionary interlocutory appeals. Whether you are able to obtain a discretionary interlocutory appeal is extremely fact sensitive. What is important to remember and ask yourself is whether you have a final order, or an interlocutory order.
Timing. The third thing to know about appeals in Indiana is the time limitation involved. The timing of appeals is very important, and unfortunately, is something that many individuals miss out on. In order to preserve your right to appeal, the general rule is that you must file your notice of appeal within 30 days of the court’s entry of your appealable order. For example, if the court entered a final order on March 1, you would have until have until March 31 to file your notice of appeal. There are exceptions and filings that can be made that toll the general thirty-day time limit, but those are fact sensitive scenarios. What is important at this time is to remember that you have 30 days from the entry of an order to appeal, and failure to file a notice of appeal in those thirty days can constitute a waiver of your right to appeal.
Limited to the Record. The last thing to know about appeals in Indiana is that, generally, you are “limited to the record.” That is, all evidence and testimony presented in the case at the trial court level. Any evidence or facts that are not contained in the record are off-limits in the appeal. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals can only consider the facts and circumstances as they existed during the hearing, not issues that have arisen since. Thus, remember that in order to use certain evidence on appeal, it must be in the record.
Appeals are complex matters, and this area of law is extremely technical. The above information is general in nature, and know that there are exceptions to almost every rule. Obtaining skilled counsel is key to navigating the complex waters of appeals. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all types of appeals, be it civil or criminal, throughout Indiana. This blog is intended for general educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.