Indiana provides parties involved in legal disputes, whether it be criminal or civil in nature, with the opportunity to appeal the outcome of the case, albeit, with some exceptions. Like most everything else in life, an individual’s entitlement to an appeal is not absolute. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to effectively preserve your ability to pursue an appeal. In this blog, we look at three basic components to an appeal and provide a brief overview of information so that you do not forfeit your right to an appeal.
Timing. The first thing to know about appeals is the timing aspect associated with the same. In general, an individual has thirty (30) days from the final ruling of a trial court to file a Notice of Appeal. The timing aspect is an extremely important part of preserving your right to appeal. Courts have consistently found that individuals who fail to file a Notice of Appeal within the time period forfeit the right to appeal. This deadline can be tolled for a brief amount of time with the filing of what is known as a Motion to Correct Errors. If you file a Motion to Correct Errors the time to file an appeal varies but must be met. What is important to know is there is a strict deadline for filing, and absent extraordinary circumstances, failing to follow this strict deadline will result in forfeiting the appeal.
Final Order. In order to pursue an appeal, the general rule is that there must be a “final judgment.” A judgment is considered 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.1 In short, a final judgment is one that disposes of all issues as to all parties, thereby ending the particular case and leaving nothing for future determination. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For example, you may be entitled to an interlocutory appeal (and appeal taken during the on-going litigation) depending on the circumstances. However, the general rule is that there must be a final judgment before you seek an appeal.
Limited to the Record. When appealing, an individual is limited to the “record on appeal.” The record on appeal means all exhibits, testimony, and proceedings that were conducted before the trial court. For example, an individual cannot try to submit a new piece of evidence for the first time at the appeal level because it was not first presented at the trial court level, meaning it is not a part of the “record on appeal.” So while there may be information you want to put before an appellate court, remember that any information you want to convey must be based on the record.
This area of law is extremely technical. The above information is general in nature, and there are exceptions to almost every rule. Not only are they emotional, but oftentimes complex, especially when it comes to property division. 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.