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Two Ways to Obtain a Final Court Ruling: Should You Seek Special Findings?

In the course of civil litigation, there are many court orders. However, only one is a final order that can be appealed. There are two ways a court may issue a final order. One way is issue a general judgment, which can be a sentence or a few sentences. The other way is special findings. Special findings are lengthy in nature and demonstrate which facts the court relied upon and which law it applied in making its ruling.

Special findings, being so detailed, make it easy for the parties to understand why the court ruled as it did. This also shows the same to the Court of Appeals if a party challenges the ruling. If the facts of the record (the testimony and exhibits or documents) are not relevant to the findings, and/or the findings are not supported by the record, then there is a chance the trial court erred in applying the law. Thus, it is easier to prevail on appeal and is set forth in the written appellate ruling.

For this reason, it is often important to request special findings. Special findings, however, must be requested in writing before you start your trial. Without these, the trial court typically does not issue special findings. Cases where special findings are made are available online and it benefits every litigant to consider these to be an educated legal consumer.1

Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle civil appeals from all Indiana courts. They hope you consider this important choice in your case. This blog post is for general educational purposes and is not intended as a solicitation for legal services.

  1. A recent case that shows how special findings are relied upon by the Court of Appeals is Maddux v. Maddux, August 11, 2015.
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