At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we understand and observe the typical civil or criminal litigant has little understanding of the appellate process. Our firm position is the more informed a client is about a matter (recognizing not everything on-line is accurate or without a political slant), the better job he or she may do in aiding his or her client with an appeal.
As a general note, appeals of cases are not common relative to the number of bench and jury trials conducted throughout the state. They are “big deals” because if thoroughly researched and written, they are time consuming, expensive and deal with the entire set of controlling issues in a case in a very short period of time. Winning or losing, with finality, is in play.
Inherently, appeals are deadline driven (so the decision of the trial court can finally, be final) and often are emergency matters, at least to the litigant bringing an appeal of a case he or she lost in a trial court below that he or she wants to correct it immediately. Also, appeals may involve true emergencies in the sense that without immediate relief from a higher court, an event may occur that cannot be corrected by the subsequent appeal. Thus, a “stay” (stop) or emergency stay may be sought (these are rare).
Perhaps the most common example of an emergency stay is one in the United States Supreme Court in a capital case where a criminal defendant is set to be executed. Most all appellate courts have emergency or expedited provisions; human nature and experience reflects emergencies rarely occur during business hours Monday through Friday.
Against the time pressures of an appeal, it is here the term “rotunda filing” comes into play in Indiana with respect to filings in the Indiana Court of Appeals or the Indiana Supreme Court. By the way, the Indiana Supreme Court is not a court to which most appeals automatically get directed to. Except in narrow criminal or civil circumstances, the Indiana Supreme Court decides which cases it will accept, typically following a decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Rotunda filing refers to the rotunda (loosely defined as a large room, sometimes round in shape, covered by a dome) at the Indiana State Capital Building (“Capital Building”). Rotunda filings are done at the second-floor east side of the Capital Building and are received through the main doors until midnight. A person can access the Rotunda Filing Drop Box at any time after-hours. An item placed in the Drop Box will be given a file date based on the date/time indicated on the time stamp (there is a time clock on the top of the Rotunda Box that is used as part of the Rotunda Filings process), provided the day on which the item is placed in the Drop box is a day on which the Office was otherwise open. If the item is placed in the Drop Box on a day when the Office is otherwise closed (e.g., weekend or holiday), then the item will receive a file date of the following business day.
The briefs or motions or other documents are directly filed by completing a receipt describing the filing, which is electronically stamped, and depositing these in the Rotunda Filing Drop Box. The integrity of this process is in monitoring by closed circuit TV. Different provisions exist for emergency filings.
Thus, rotunda filing is not a vestige of the past, but, instead, still is a viable means to file in these courts and indexed to the actual Capital Building rotunda. For cases where there is no other mechanism by which to get a matter timely filed during business hours, this is a viable option and widely used each day. This demonstrates the Appellate’s Court responsiveness to legal needs and changing with the times. At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we hope this historical and current information about rotunda filing at the Indiana Capital Building aids in your understanding of the Indiana Appellate Courts, which are steeped in tradition.