In Indiana, there are four key steps to take in appealing a decision of an Indiana judge or jury verdict. The first is to determine if there is a final order. In most civil trials, the appealable order is the final order disposing of all of the issues. In criminal cases, this is the date of the sentencing. The rules set forth by the Indiana Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are strict and require a certain action to be taken within thirty days of a final appealable order. Missing a date can preclude an appeal.
The second step is to determine who will act as your appellate counsel. This needs to be determined within a few days of the final order to give you time to work with this counsel and his or her office policies about appeals. Most attorneys do not accept cases only a few days before a deadline because of the requirement to properly determine issues and timely file a Notice of Appeal. Many trial attorneys do not handle appeals. They are technical, rule-driven, and relatively rare compared to civil trials.
Thirdly, with appellate counsel initially and likely after he or she has a typed version of the trial (the transcript) copies of the evidence admitted, it is important to determine the proper issues for appeal. While Indiana law allows an appeal of virtually any final order issued by an Indiana trial court, some issues are stronger than others and better to spend the time, money and other available resources addressing. For instance, an unanswered question of law may be one that is much more likely to succeed on appeal than just a request that the Court of Appeals look at how the trial court viewed the factual evidence.
Finally, while doing these steps, a Notice of Appeal must be prepared and timely filed with the filing fee. Failing to do this waives the appeal. In some criminal cases, a belated Notice of Appeal may be filed but this is rare. These are the initial steps to appealing any trial court’s final order.
Hopefully, this blog makes you a more informed legal consumer; if so, it has accomplished its goal. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle appeals across the State of Indiana to the Indiana Court of Appeals and transfers to the Indiana Supreme Court. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for legal services.