Often we receive calls from litigants who are seeking to appeal a trial court order that was unfavorable to us, and one of the first questions we always ask is “when was the order issued?” This is an important question, because, while every litigant has the right to one appeal (to the Court of Appeals in Indiana), there are very specific deadlines to filing the Notice of Appeal, and if the Notice is not filed on time, the litigant loses his or her right to appeal at all.
Pursuant to the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rule 9(A), to perfect an appeal a litigant must file his or her notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals within 30 days of the final judgment from the trial court.1 (there are some exceptions to this rule, such that, in certain cases, a litigant can file an interlocutory appeal of an interim order of the court before a final judgment is issued, or some appeals may be appealed directly to the Indiana Supreme Court, however that is beyond the scope of this blog post).
As a general rule of thumb, if a litigant does not file his or her Notice of Appeal within the appropriate timeline, he or she is forever precluded from filing an appeal on that final judgment.
In a recently decided case, Jordan v. State of Indiana, the Court of Appeals allowed the litigant to file his Notice of Appeal after the 30 day deadline.2 In the Jordan case, the litigant took every step possible to inform his attorney that he wished to appeal the final judgment, such as stating he wished to appeal at the final hearing, Jordan’s family paying the attorney to file the Notice of Appeal, and sending a letter to the attorney inquiring as to the status of filing the appeal. However, no Notice of Appeal was filed. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, Jordan’s attorney was admitted to the hospital for treatment for cancer shortly after Jordan’s sentencing order was issued, and passed away several months later. The Court of Appeals considered these facts and circumstances in Jordan’s case, and permitted him to file a Notice of Appeal after the requisite 30 day deadline, because Jordan took every step possible and he was not at fault for the attorney’s failure to complete and file the Notice of Appeal.
While the Jordan case does set a precedent that allows some leeway in filing a Notice of Appeal within the 30 days timeline, it is unlikely that many cases will match these facts and circumstances, and therefore, the 30-day deadline will be applicable to most cases, without exception.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in understanding the deadlines for filing a Notice of Appeal. Generally, the Court of Appeals holds steadfastly to its rules and deadlines for filing a Notice of Appeal. Every case is different, and it is recommended that you consult an attorney to determine if and when a Notice of Appeal should be filed in your case. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Lori Schmeltzer.
- Jordan v. State of Indiana, __ N.E.2d. __ (Ind.Ct.App.2013).