- READ THE RULES. Download the set of rules for appeals in your jurisdiction and court system. Read all the rules. I’d tell you to get an attorney but that would be a joke and an insult. In Chicago, most attorneys charge $10k to $15k or more for a simple appeal and then many do just a lick and a promise at the last minute. One attorney I know tells the client they are not allowed to review or change anything before submission. He is sooooo full of it. Bar complaint for him. Of course he did a crappy job on this appellate brief. Knew it. In any case, 95% of the US public cannot afford $10k for an appeal. So you’re stuck with me and this website and a DIY brief. It’s completely interesting that 95% of Americans cannot afford to access their own Court Appellate system, but it seems no one care and there is no hue and cry to get reasonably priced attorneys to assure justice in the US.
- take all the court orders that you don’t like (often it’s the last judgment against you, but in probate there can be a lot of them–appointment of a guardian without service of process, trumped up and churned attorneys fees, fake sales of buildings were the “system” ruined them for a highly discounted sale to friends, a psychopath being named guardian, etc) and attach them to the Notice of Appeal to show specifically what orders you want to appeal.
- Find the Notice of Appeal form on the court’s website. Fill it out within the time allowed (generally 30 days, but some states are 21, so be careful).
- Attach the orders you don’t like to the Notice of Appeal and generally file in the trial court. If you file in the wrong court it should not be fatal and the court should just transfer it back to the right court, but you should not lose jurisdiction.
- Fill out the form if one is available, if not, write a letter to the Clerk of Court directing her to prepare the Record on Appeal which is a copy of all the pleadings in the court’s file which she will then consecutively page number, certify the record and return to you. Illinois is now all efile, so this job is easier and quicker for her and for you. You then file it with the Appellate court after you are done making a copy for yourself.
- Once the Record on Appeal is done, you have 35 days to write your opening brief and submit it. In general, it’s easy to get extensions of time to file the ROA and your Opening Brief, so take your time, be careful and be respectful of the miscreants involved in the case. Don’t call them names. Cite the facts and case law so the court can chew them out, not you.
- 35 days after you submit and serve your opening brief, the other side has 30 days to respond, then you have 14 days to file a reply brief. A reply brief is only for new issues, so in general, it’s a lot shorter. You should put on the cover of all your pleadings ORAL ARGUMENT REQUESTED. If you do get selected for oral argument, you might want to hire an attorney for that. But don’t worry, 90% of all cases are decided on the written pleadings so be sure to do a good job explaining everything
- Write me if you have further questions and I will publish a general answer on my blog. I can no longer given individual legal information because the ARDC is all over me for publishing this blog and telling the unvarnished truth about the (monkey) business in the legal profession and churning bills and lawyers and courts doing some pretty crappy work. In South Carolina they have a two step process where they have a set of short initial briefs which only cite the issues on appeal, then after that full briefs are due, so read the rules for your state/jurisdiction carefully.