In general, an individual cannot appeal a trial court’s decision until there is a final judgment in the case. A final judgment is one that disposes of all pending issues in a case. There are, however, exceptions to the “final judgment rule.” As one may imagine, a judge typically does not decide all issues in a case at one time. In fact, judges make numerous rulings in cases. There are times when a judge will make a ruling that does not dispose of all the issues, but just some of them, meaning that there is no final judgment, ultimately barring an individual from seeking an appeal. However, in some circumstances, an individual may be entitled to an interlocutory appeal. An interlocutory appeal is one that occurs before the final judgment is entered in a case. There are situations where an individual can obtain an interlocutory appeal as of right, but most are discretionary in nature (the trial court has to allow it). This blog addresses the strict time deadlines of discretionary (and of-right) interlocutory appeals—miss it and you forfeit the right.
A crucial piece of an interlocutory appeal, as well as any appeal in general, are time restraints and filing deadlines. The Court of Appeals recently reiterated this point in its decision of State v. Fahringer.1 In Fahringer, the Court of Appeals rejected an interlocutory appeal by the State for failure to timely file the appeal. Specifically, the State of Indiana was appealing the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. The trial court issued its order on July 26, 2018, but the State did not file the interlocutory appeal until November 5, 2018. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss in response to the interlocutory appeal, arguing that the time for filing had passed. The Court of Appeals agreed.
In siding with the Defendant, the Court of Appeals made a few observations. First, the Court pointed out that parties have thirty days after the issuance of a trial court order to file for an interlocutory appeal, which the State did not do. Second, while the Court observed that trial courts can allow belated interlocutory appeals in situations if good cause is shown, the State failed to show good cause in the present case. Ultimately, in agreeing with the defendant, the Court of Appeals found that the “trial court’s certification of its Suppression Order for an interlocutory appeal was an abuse of its discretion, and we find no compelling reason to disregard the State’s failure to initiate a timely interlocutory appeal.” The take-away is do not miss your deadline to seek a discretionary (or of-right) interlocutory appeal in the trial court.
This area of law is extremely technical, while also having the potential to completely change the course of your life. This case exhibits the importance of having skilled and tested appellate counsel to ensure your rights are protected. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle appeals of domestic, civil, DCS and criminal cases that have issued final orders in 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.