I had a reader ask me a question about Appellate Court, which prompted me to write this lengthy response. After I looked at it, I thought, this is a great overview of the appellate process, so I thought I'd share it with you, my readers. This is a step by step, simplified overview of how the appellate process takes place:
A. Initial Filing:
Within 20 days of the final judgment, you file the Civil Appeal Form with the attached DS1 (expanded form of the case detail, i.e. list of pleadings, orders, and parties in the case)
Within 10 days of filing your Civil Appeal Form, you must hand in:
1) Preliminary statement of issues;
2 Preliminary designation of the trial pleadings;
3. Transcript order form (JD-ES-38) indicating that you have ordered transcripts of the entire trial.
4. A docketing statement
5. A preargument conference statement (if there is a self rep. party they don't usual move forward on preargument conferences, but that is beginning to change)
6. Draft judgment file-you do not file because it is not necessary in family court matter
7. A constitutionality notice if the Connecticut statute you are challenging may be unconstitutional.
And a payment of $250.00 either in cash, credit card or a check made payable to the clerk of the Superior Court.
After all these items have been filed you will receive a letter from appellate court assigning you a docket number and a case manager who is ordinarily an attorney but they call them clerks.
B) Perfecting the Record:
At this point you begin perfecting the record for appeal, making sure that everything is accurate and clear before moving forward on your appeal. To do that you:
1. Obtain transcripts. Of course, make sure you have a record of the trial available for the appellate court in terms of the transcripts you have ordered.
2. Motions for Rectification, to correct any inaccuracies in the Memorandum of Decision or in any documents submitted for trial or in any motions, or in anything said in the transcript. You have 35 days from the delivery of the last portion of the transcripts to submit such motions.
3. Trial Court Memorandum of Decision which you are appealling: Submit a copy of this to the Appellate Court, or make sure the Appellate Court receives a signed copy (by judge) of the transcirpt of the Oral Decision
4. Motion for Articulation: If you didn't understand any of the Trial Court Order that you are appealling or when the legal basis for the decision is unclear, ask for an explanation now in this motion. A motion for articulation must be filed within the same time frame as a motion for rectification, i.e. 35 days from the delivery of the last transcript in your case.
5. Motion for Review: If you can't get an answer from the Trial Court after filing a motion for articulation and/or a motion for rectification, if the trial court simply ignores you, or denies your motion then file a Motion For Review asking the Appellate Court to force the trial court to respond to your motions. Don't wait too long to file a motion for review if the trial court simply ignores you. If the trial court answers, and is either unclear or wishy washy or denies your motion, you then have ten days to respond with your motion to review.
6. Record: Just around this time, the case manager should begin putting together the record, or compilation of relevant pleadings in your case . It is up to the case manager as to when he starts and finishes it, but you should get the finalized record at some point, and you can challenge it if it doesn't strike you as complete, or if there is a document in it that you wish removed. Once you receive your copy of the record, you make 15 copies of it and submit them to the Appellate Clerk, and then you make a copy for all the other parties in the case and send them.
While you are filing all your motions to perfect the record for appeal, you are also writing your brief. You have 45 days from when the transcripts in your case are delivered in order to complete your brief. If you need extensions of time on that, then you must submit those Motions For an Extension of Time. Most of these requests for an extension of time are accepted.
Once you have filed your brief, the opposing side has 30 days within which to file their brief.
Once the opposing side files their brief, you then have 20 days to file your reply brief.
D. Oral Argument:
Once the briefs in the case have been filed, the case is then assigned for oral argument. You will receive a small booklet in the mail listing the date and time when you should appear for Oral Argument. You are not required to file any further papers at this point.
Ordinarily, during oral argument, the Appellant gets 30 minutes, the Appellee gets 30 minutes, and then the Appellant gets rebuttal time. But you should state that you wish to have rebuttal time at the beginning of argument.
E. Post Judgment:
If the ruling goes against you , you can submit a motion to reconsider, petition to have your case go to the State Supreme Court, or go to Federal Court.
Deadlines: Remember that meeting the deadlines is absolutely essential to your case, or if you can't meet your deadline, make sure you file a motion for extension of time or you could potentially completely wreck your case, particularly when it comes to the initial 20 day deadline within in which to even file your case.
And that is it. Are there any special situations or exceptions which would lead you to deviate from this overview? Yes, and this is why you would review the Connecticut Practice Book carefully regarding Appellate Procedure and get your copy of the "Handbook of Appellate Procedure" which you can google and download from the internet for free or pick up a copy, again for free, at your Appellate Clerk's office.
If you have any questions about what is going on in your case, you ask the case manager. I have generally found these folks very forthcoming and helpful in responding to my concerns, if, on occasion more loyal to the system than to my interests. But that would only be understandable, so you have to work with them knowing that's what you've got.
Usually it takes eight months or so before you begin to see the end of the road in an appellate case. It can go on and on, particularly if you have a dim wit like the opposing attorney in my case.