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Showing posts with label APPEALS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label APPEALS. Show all posts

Friday, November 4, 2011


You know how the court system is always telling self represented parties that we are supposed to act like attorneys in every way and follow all the required court procedures?  Apparently, we aren't entitled to any special treatment because we are self represented parties.  

But don't we know how hypocritcal that is!  Don't we know how attorneys are given preferential treatment over self represented parties on many occasions! 

Well, this past week I found out another way in which attorneys get preferential treatment--in appellate court.  Up until now, a clerk at appellate court has informed  me, there has been an internal policy in appellate court denying self represented parties access to preargument conferences.  Apparently, only attorneys have been given the opportunity for preargument conferences. 

Can you believe that!  I don't know about you guys who are self represented parties, but I am getting a little sick and tired of being told I have to live up to the same exalted standards regular attorneys have to live up to while at the same time enduring constant and ongoing discrimination within the judicial system against me as a self represented party. 

Come on, now, enough is enough!!!  

The other situation I can't stand is when judges reveal their prejudice outright, ruling against you, and then when you try to argue your point further, they make it clear they will only listen if you have an attorney to argue on your behalf:  "Go get an attorney!" 

Isn't it our constitutional right to represent ourselves before the court, and when we represent ourselves don't we have the right to equal justice before the law? 

Luckily, I have been informed by an appellate court clerk that this particular policy of excluding self represented parties from preargument conferences in appellate court will be changed as of January 1, 2012.  For the future, as of that date, self represented parties will be allowed access to the preargument conference.  And even now, in advance of this change, since we are so close to the end of the year, the clerk told me that if you request a preargument conference you will most likely get one. 

I say that somewhat guardedly because when I then asked for a preargument conference in my case, I didn't get one.  Maybe I have cooties or something! 

Important Point:  Since opening up preargument conferences to self represented parties is such a new policy, I wouldn't wait passively to have your case deemed appropriate.  Give the clerk a call and demand a conference.

For those of you self represented parties who will hopefully have access to preargument conferences in the appellate court, here is a quick overview of what is involved. 

Take a look at the Handbook of Connecticut Appellate Procedure (handed out free of charge to all self represented parties at the appellate court) on pages 9 and 10, which is section #4 of the Handbook.  Yes, I know this handbook was written in 2003, but it provides a good foundation for what you need to know.  Just make sure you are up to date by rechecking anything I have said here with the most recent Connecticut Practice Book. 

Purpose of the Preargument Conference:  Essentially, the preargument conference is carried out pursuant to Connecticut Practice Boook Section 63-1.  It is ordinarily conducted by judge trial referees (retired judges over the age of 70) or senior judges. 

There are three purposes to the preargument conference:  

1. The conference helps attorneys "identify their strongest and weakest claims" to see whether their case is worth pursuing further.  In doing so, each attorney will outline what the issues are on appeal and cite the authorities supporting their positions; 

2.  The pretrial conference allows attorneys to discuss with the judge the possible settlement of the case; 

3. Pursuant to the Connecticut Practice Book Section 65-1, it allows the judge to consider whether the case should be directly transferred to the Supreme Court.  

Preparation for the Preargument Conference:  Preargument conference statements must be filed in advance of the conference in accordance to the Connecticut Practice Book Section 63-4(a)(5).  

Along with the statement you should file:

1.  A copy of the trial court's written memorandum of decision or a copy of the transcript of the trial court's oral decision, if the transcript is available and 

2. A copy of your preliminary statement of issues.  

In cases deemed appropriate by the Chief Justice, Chief Judge or designee the parties are informed by letter of the date and location of the conference.  

(As I said previously, until now no cases including a self represented party were deemed appropriate!  What a lovely loophole to use in order to evade the requirement that you provide equitable treatment to all litigants!  Well, that group over there just wasn't "deemed appropriate"--RIGHT!)

Anyway, apparently they are deemed appropriate now, so self represented parties, pay attention to these instructions so you can take advantage of this new opportunity that is opening up for you.  

Pursuant to Connecticut Practice Book Section 63-10 all clients must be present at this meeting or else.  

The handbook continues on to say that experience has shown that settlement in a case is more likely to occur before the parties have invested time and money in writing briefs, so conferences of this kind are ordinarily scheduled prior to submission of the briefs.  If briefs are anticipated, they are ordinarily delayed until this preargument conference has taken place.  

The discussions that take place during this conference are confidential and subsequently direct disclosure of the content of these discussions during oral argument before the appellate court is not allowed.  

Is it of any value to attend these preargument conferences?  I don't know.  I think it depends upon your level of experience in litigating as a self represented party.  I have attended pretrial conferences and found that because I was self represented the judge simply blew off the conference and the opposing party resorted to hot air and rhetoric rather than a serious discussion of the issues.  That was a waste of my time.  

However, since I now have more experience, I think I could do a lot better job next time.  It really is up to you to utilize your skills of self assertion and knowledge of the law in order to demand that the conference be conducted properly.  I generally consider any opportunity the court gives you to speak up about your case, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, an important opportunity to refine and focus your approach and make it better.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


This summer I was traveling out of state when I received a phone call from a friend who was monitoring my mailbox.  He told me that I had received a motion from the opposing attorney in regard to my appeal and that my response needed to be in before I could get back home. 

Deadlines are a particularly important matter in appellate court where they like to keep things moving.  So, what could I do?  I wasn't anywhere near a computer or any of the  documents I needed to write a response.  That answer is, I could file a "Motion For An Extension of Time". 

The most amusing aspect of filing a motion for an extension of time is the court's requirement that you ask the opposing counsel in your case to agree to one.  First off it is a pain in the rear end to approach the opposing counsel with your proposal, and second that counsel is wholly unlikely to agree.  That is WHY you are in appellate court.  Hello!  Chivalry is dead. In my day, I have never had opposing counsel agree to an extension, although, let me tell you, I have allowed opposing counsel extensions of time.  That's because I am a really, really, really nice person.  Ok, I won't go overboard, I'm just a nice person.

Anyway, the format for a motion for an extension of time is in section 6, page 12 of The Handbook of Appellate Procedure made readily available by the Clerk's office at appellate court.  Go get a copy of this book immediately! 

A Motion For An Extension of Time starts with a specific statement of what you need, i.e. an extension of time until such and such a date.  Then it breaks up into three sections as do all motions submitted to appellate court--1) Brief History of the Case; 2. Specific Facts Relied Upon; and 3) Legal Grounds.  Usually your specific facts includes your reasons for requesting the extension of time.  Then your legal grounds would be something like, "The movant relies on Practice Book Section 66-1 which permits the chief clerk to grant motions for extension of time upon a showing of good  cause.  The specific facts demonstrate good cause for a ____ day extension of time. 

Overall, based upon P.B. Sec. 66-1, a motion for an extension of time must include this information:  A.  the reason for the requested extension; B.  a statement indicating whether other parties in the case consent or object (as I said); C. a statement re the current status of the brief or motion in the case to which your extension refers;  D.  the estimated date of completion of the brief or motion to which your extension refers;  E. a demonstration of good cause; E.  certification to all counsel and pro se parties of record based upon P.B. Sec. 62-7 and F. a certification that the formatting of the document is correct pursuat to P.B. Sec. 66-3. If you are worried about meeting these requirements and having the correct format, you have the option of getting sample copies of this motion from the clerk's office at the appellate court the next time you are there.  They usually hand them out with the "Handbook".

You may wish to run by a clerk your reason for requesting an extension to be sure the basis for your request meets the standard of a good cause.  There could be scheduling conflicts with other legal matters going on in your case, the fact that your case has complex issues which make it difficult for you to write your motion, personal reasons such as a medical problem or vacation plans, or any number of things. 

My best advice to you when you bring the matter up with the clerk is to be honest and straightforward.  Overall, I have experienced a general attitude of cooperation from the clerk's office when I have made these kinds of motions so there isn't any particular need that I see to play around. 

When it comes to how much of an extension you need, I generally double the time period I have to respond.  So if I have ten days to respond to a motion, I make the extention of time another ten days. 

You want to be sure to get your request in before your brief or motion is due; otherwise, the clerk is required to deny your motion and you will have to file a different document called a motion for permission to file late.  In the last minute, I have received permission from the clerk over the phone which I then followed up with a motion the very next day.  But I wouldn't try to push your luck in that way that often. 

One final point, how many copies of the document you need is always a big point with the appellate court.  Keep in mind that you are only required to file with the court one original copy of your motion for an extension of time. However, you'd be an idiot if you didn't get a stamped copy for yourself, so make sure you get one. After that the opposing side has five days within which to respond to your motion and then you will get a decision, hopefully in your favor.

So, there you go, folks.  For those who procrastinate or those who are avoidant or overwhelmed, etc., you are now aware of what to do to give yourself some extra time.  Use the knowledge well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I have had folks mention to me that their appeals were sumarily dismissed by the appellate court, that they had no opportunity to submit a brief or present an oral argument.  Please keep in mind that this does not mean the end of the road for your case.  That is exactly the kind of situation where you move forward first with a motion for reconsideration, and if that fails, then with the petition for a writ of certiorari. Again, as I have said, it ain't over until its over.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Apparently, most of the time, if a judgment goes against you in trial court you can appeal the case in appellate court as of right.  This means you have a legal right to appeal.  However, if you lose your appeal, you do not have the right to appeal your appeal, i.e. take your issue on to the supreme court as of right.  So, if you get turned down on your appeal, you have to consider your options carefully.

One of your options is to request a reconsideration of your case.  A motion for reconsideration must be filed within ten days from the official release date of the decision you are challenging.  In addition, you must pay a fee, or obtain a waiver of the fee before giving it to the appellate court. 

The upside of this situation is you get an opportunity to have your issue heard again.  The downside is that, according to the Handbook of Appellate Procedure which appellate court clerks generally hand out for free to self represented parties and published in 2003 (so watch it, some of its content may be dated!), is that "they are rarely granted."  I'm not sure that anything has changed since then! 

Your other option, if you fail with your appeal and fail with your motion to reconsider is that you can approach the judges of the supreme court requesting permission to submit your case to them for review.  The document you present to the court in order to obtain permission is called a petition for a writ of certiorari, because you are petitioning to obtain a certification to allow your case to go to the supreme court.

So if you are listening here, this is the sequence when it comes to a lawsuit: 1. trial court; 2. appellate court; 3. supreme court.  After that, I believe you can go to the federal or circuit courts.  Someone who knows this for certain might want to comment. 

There are some important points to take note of in regard to the appeals process.  First and foremost, do not miss the deadline for your appeal, and once you fail in the appeal do not then miss the deadline for your petition for certification to the supreme court. 

Did you hear that?  Let me say it again, do not miss your deadline for appeal or for certification, because if you miss the deadlines, they will not be nice to you and let you get away with it.  In the vast majority of cases, if you miss the deadline, then baby, you miss. Sayonara! 

If your appeal with the appellate court fails, you have 20 days within which to file your petition for certification from the date in which the opinion is officially released, or from which the issuance of notice has been sent out indicating a decision has been made, whichever comes earlier.  Again, let me repeat.  20 days and twenty days only. 

BIG EXCEPTION!  That is, unless you file a motion for an extension of time in which to file, in which case you take the extension, or if you filed a motion which would render the judgment null and void, such as a motion for reconsideration.  Then the 20 day period would start when you get a judgment on that motion.  I know that is complicated, but see the Practice Book 2011 Sec. 84-4 if you need further clarification.  Oh, and remember those twenty days include weekends and holidays, unless the due date falls on a day when the appellate court is closed, in which circumstance you have until the next business day. 

But don't wait until then.  File your documents at least a day or two in advance just in case there are problems. 

Second, keep in mind that you can't really appeal a decision that is based upon the judge's discretion, or based upon the judge's understanding or interpretation of the evidence and the testimony.  A judge, particularly on the trial level, has tremendous discretion to made decisions as he or she sees fit. 

However, if the judge made a technical mistake such as allowing into the record evidence that is ordinarily considered inadmissible or in some way violating the rules of the practice book or precedent as established by case law, then you have a genuine chance at succeeding with an appeal.  I understand that most of the time appeals do not succeed, but if they match my description of what ordinarily constitutes an appealable case, you may actually get some positive results. 

The format for this a petition to the supreme court is established by the Practice Book 2011 section 84-5 so take a look at it.  The appellate court clerk will give you a sample petition for you to copy if you request it. Basically, it states the following:  that luckily, the petition, unlike a brief (35 pages) is only ten pages long and includes very specific requirements. 

It includes 1) what issues you wish to present to the court for review; 2. a statement of why the court should allow the extraordinary relief of certification; 3. a summary of the case; 4. a concise argument supporting your position; 5. an appendix including the ruling you are appealing from and; 6. copies of any motions you filed which would have stayed the appeals period; 7. a list of the parties including names, addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers and, if applicable, the juris numbers of their counsel.  It also has to have a certification page affirming that the formatting of the petition adheres to the practice book and that a copy of the document has been sent to all of the parties concerned.

You are required to provide an original and 15 copies to the appellate court. Remember to get a stamped copy for your own records. 

The big advantage of the petition is that it is short and sweet.  It gets you to focus the issues and genuinely evaluate whether you have a case that is worth pursuing. You really have to get to your points and prove your points clearly and succinctly. 

Once you have submitted your petition, the opposing side has a chance to respond, and then it goes to the supreme court for a decision.  You don't have the opportunity to respond to your opponent's counter to your petition, which is a bummer, and you don't have a chance for an oral argument where you can further develop your arguments.  The judges just look at the material you have submitted and arrive at a decision. That process generally takes from six to eight weeks, from what I've heard.  And, as I've heard it said, it's not over until its over!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


It was bound to happen eventually! After all my conversation regarding my appeal, I finally ended up before the appellate court arguing my case.  How was it, you want to ask? It was awful, it was gut wrenching, it was exhiliarating, it was unbelieavable--all of those things. 

To be honest, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it.  I did everything I could think of to avoid the awful moment, delaying assignment to the calendar with various excuses, pretending to myself I couldn't remember it was upcoming on the agenda--all sorts of things. 

Finally, the bad day came, however, when I received notification from court of the day and time of my hearing.  I have to say the appellate court clerks are really fair about assigning you your hearing date.  They send a letter to both parties well in advance asking you to let them know what dates may not work out for you. Once they have a day, they send you a little yellow booklet in the mail listing when you are supposed to appear. 

Again, I was in an avoidance pattern so I waited until a few days before my hearing to do what you really have to do, which is, visit the appellate court well in advance. If you are smart, you do that for several days so that you can get an understanding of how it works. 

The appellate courthouse is located at 75 Elm Street in Hartford.  This means that you get off at Capitol Avenue, turn left, drive towards the Bushnell Center, turn left on Trinity and a quick right onto Elm Street.  If you pass the Bushnell Center, you've missed your road.  Parking is a bit problematic, but not impossible.  

75 Elm Street is a small building with a modest exterior and a rather 1920s faded splendor on the interior.  Security is right there when you walk in.  There is a waiting room for attorneys and self represented parties on the left.  You walk through two heavily sealed doors to enter the courtroom itself.  The ceiling of the room is extremely high with lengthy draperies surrounding each window.  The judges sit at a desk shaped like a horseshoe.  In front of the horseshoe, there are two desks and two podiums placed at a respectful distance away.  That is where the attorneys and self represented parties stand up to argue their cases. 

Behind them is a horseshoe of chairs placed there for the litigants and for any other attorneys to sit.  I did ask if some friends of mine unrelated to the case could sit there and just give me moral support, but I was told no, they had to sit in the rows of chairs made available to members of the audience behind the second horseshoe for parties and additional attorneys. 

If you can envision it, there was direct access for parties and their attorneys straight ahead through the sealed doors, but there were also two doors to the left and right leading to ailes which the clerks could use in order to speak to the judges or hand papers to them if necessary. 

The appellate court takes a big break in the middle of the day so you have from 10:00am to 12:00pm and then from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. 

Ironically, the first case I listened to when I came in to observe was one in which an obvious abuser was arguing his case.  Apparently, he had been obstructing in his case in trial court and in appellate court for quite some time with various objections and appeals and he had also spent a couple of years in jail for failure to pay child support as well as other wrongdoing, even though he was clearly wealthy enough to actually not be a schmuck. 

I found it amusing that when the opposing attorney pointed out this guy's wrong doing, he responded with "You can't judge me on the basis of my checkered past!  Fair is fair."  I'm like, to myself, "Oh no!  You can't! You'd be surprised."  Still, I took the phrase down just in case my past comes up. 

I was the only person sitting in the audience that day, and my guess is that is pretty much the case all the time.  Despite the plethora of seating available to people in the appellate court, very few people actually come to see what is going on.  This means that decisions of tremendous magnitude that will affect the well being of so many people once they are made take place in a sleepy, out of the way place that no one ever visits.  The irony in that is quite striking.

Another one of the cases I found interesting was an appeal from a murderer, and a few members of the victim's family came to hear it.  They were dressed in suits and ties, and every once in a while one of them would bite his lip and look down.

I was all over the place preparing for my hearing.  I took a look at my brief and my reply brief.  I looked over the case law one more time.  I tried to take some notes and by the time I was done I put together a four page double spaced statement.

They actually tell you not to do that because you are supposed to look the judges in the eyes and speak directly to them.  The advice I've heard is that you should just put some of your notes on index cards and refer to them if you need to.  I read off my prepared statement, but by then I had it memorized so I didn't need to look down at it that much.  

As the appellant, I had to go first, and I have to admit I was so upset and uncomfortable that I spent several minutes just hemming and hawing, shuffling my papers and shifting notebooks around, but once I got going, my conviction took over and I did just fine. 

In an appeal, each person gets twenty minutes to argue their position and then the appellant gets an additional ten minutes to respond to the appellee, the opposing side.  As the appellant you can choose to use up those ten minutes in your initial statement and choose not to reply to your opponent.  The judge will ask you to let them know how you want to handle your argument up front before you get started.  You pretty much talk until your time is up. There is a small box in front of you which flashes a right light to alert you to the fact that your time is up. 

Once I got started with my argument, I had around ten minutes of speaking from my prepared remarks before the judges started in on questions and completely diverted me from what I had to say.  Then I sat down as the opposing attorney conducted her argument.  

I spent a bit of time with this lawyer and I was very satisfied to follow advice she had given me which I paid good money for two years ago, and I made sure that I focused on writing good notes of what she had said as she spoke.  Then when it was time for my reply, I jumped up and read through my notes and gave pointed responses to her arguments.  Always, and I say, always, observe what the opposing  attorney does and learn from his or her techniques.  It is always beneficial to you in the end.  Again, the judges interupted me with their questions. 

I was satisfied overall that my responses were good.  One of my answers was on the weak side and I felt disappointed when I thought about it later on.  What can I say.  In life you win a few, you lose a few, and hope for the best.

Basically, once you have gone through a trial, written up motions for articulation, motions for rectification, motions for review in the case, and once you have written your brief, and your reply brief, you pretty much have the case by heart.  So the reality is, the best preparation for your argument in appellate court is a good night's sleep, a good breakfast (or lunch depending) and the support of good friends.  Before you know it, you are done and you are walking out the door. After that all you can do is wait for the ruling, which, as I understand it, I will receive by email in a thoroughly modern manner.  If I lose, am I done?  No, not at all. That's what supreme courts are for!

Monday, February 28, 2011


I've been up early today facing the task of preparing my case for appeal.  After over a year of being in litigation--yes, can you believe it, over a year!--the case is finally going to appeal.  

I have been aware that this case was going to appeal pretty much from the beginning so I've been anticipating I'd be in this situation for a while.  Still, that doesn't make it any easier.  

The Rules of Appellate Procedure, how you go about an appeal, are contained in Chapters 60 through 86 of the 2011 Practice Book, and the rules dictating how I shall write the Preliminary Statement of Issues, the subject of this blog, is located in Chapter 63 of the 2011 Practice Book.  

There is also a "Handbook of Appellate Procedure" which was written in 2003 and is somewhat dated, though still a very good guide to making sure that you are on track in terms of how you are doing your appeal.  You just have to double check its contents with the 2011 Practice Book to be sure you are adhering to up to date procedures.  

So far I haven't found any great deviations, but I still check to be sure.  It is also worth noting that Appellate clerks respect the handbook enough so that they routinely hand it out to self represented parties so it still must be a valuable guide for us self rep types.  You can also download the book from online at:

Essentially, the part of the appeal I've been working on right now is the Preliminary Statement of Issues which provides to the court your initial statement regarding the legal basis for your appeal.  

In other words, you can't just appeal because the Judge annoyed you by ruling against you, or because you think it isn't fair, you have to appeal based upon your claim that the basis for the Judge's ruling was legally incorrect, or that some part of the proceedings during the trial violated court rules, i.e. your right to due process or something like that.

As I have said, I knew that I would be appealing early on in the trial, and so you might think that writing up this statement of issues was really easy.  Actually, doing so was the most difficult part for me and took the longest time.  I began writing up my statement around October of last year and it took from that time up to the present in order for me to formulate what the issues were.  

Meanwhile, I suffered from writer's block and panic attacks thinking I would never be able to write it up properly.  In the end, what helped me tremendously was when I went back to older motions which I submitted to the Court in order to note that there were legal problems in the case as the trial was happening.  Motions such as "Motions For Articulation" where I asked the court to explain the legal basis for some of its rulings in the case.  "Motions For Rectification" where I asked the court to correct factual or procedural mistakes that had occurred during the course of trial.  

Sometimes I lifted wording wholesale from these motions and just transferred them into my statement of issues.  Other practices that helped me in putting together my statement was the exercise of explaining them to my friends who are helping me in the case.  I told them what my issues were and they critiqued me, sometimes acting as devil's advocates to my annoyance, but every time sharpening my focus.  

In the end, last night, in fact, I came up with a satisfactory six pages of 11 issues that I am using as the basis for my appeal, each one of them sucked out of my intellectual bloodstream.  It was the culmination of tears, of angry confrontations, unbelievable frustration with myself, hours sulking in bed telling myself the world is a bad place, slammed doors, all the signifiers of an intellectual and emotional battle.  And it was done.  

I am lucky that I have friends who understand that so much of my process arises from struggle and they let me do what I have to do in order to achieve good results.  Nothing is quite important as that Statement of Issues because it acts as the fundamental basement structure of your argument.  No matter how you wander into other areas of discussion, such as case law, etc., your essential statement regarding what the problems are arises from here and it is back here you will go whenever you are asked so what it it that you are saying, what are you trying to prove, what are you trying to convey?  This is digging the basement and pouring out the concrete.  Once it is there, well built and solidly constructed, your house will be able to withstand any legal storm.  

But before I get lost in eloquence, let me just review some of this appeals procedure with you.  Here is how it goes.  1) Once the judge on the trial court level, your judge, has issued his Memorandum of Decision, or made his judgment orally in court, you have 20 DAYS within which to appeal.  2) You obtain the appeals form #JD-SC-28.  You fill it out, submit it to the trial court clerk and 3) pay $250.00.  4) The clerk signs the appeals form and then 5) gives to you the DS1, an annotated copy of your case detail, or the listing of every motion and ruling in your case which is on the record.  6) You must also provide a certificate affirming that you will send a copy of the appeals form to all the parties in the case.  If you don't include this certificate, the trial clerk will not accept your appeal.  7) Then, you take the signed appeals form, plus the certificate, and the DS1 to the appellate court clerk on that same day.  8) From then on you have TEN DAYS to provide to the appellate clerk all the documents required by the Practice Book 2011, chapter 63, including, surprise, surprise, the Preliminary Statement of Issues.  

Any questions?!?

Friday, February 11, 2011


I haven't been writing much on this blog recently because I've been so involved in my appeal.  Doing so has kept me really busy and preoccupied.

Just so you know where I am now, I recently completed the part of the appeals process known as preparing the record for trial.  For any of you interested in this esoteric part of the legal process, this is what happens just after you have submitted the brief in your case.  

And, again, for those of you who need a little orientation, this is what goes on in an appeal.  As the appellant, or the person who is submitting an appeal, first you file the papers for an appeal indicating what the issues are.  Second, you file a brief explaining what is the legal basis of your complaint.  Third, you prepare a record for the appeal.  Fourth, you go to pretrial negotiations, and fifth you end up before the Court with one half hour within which to submit your oral argument and respond to questions from the Court.  

I may revise some of this information as I become more familiar with what goes on and get more detail.  These are my general observations from what I have experienced.  And remember, folks, this is not legal advice.  What I'm telling you is simply what I'm going through so you can share in my experience.  

Essentially, the record for appeal is a kind of abbreviation of your case.  Yes, the appeals judge has the complete record and can review it at will, but the record for appeal provides simply those essential documents that a judge would need to understand the issues at hand if he or she were under time constraints.  Also, just so you know, all the information regarding preparing the record for appeal is in Chapter 68 of the 2011 Practice book.  

In order to make sure the record is accurate with contents that reflect your case, the process goes as follows.  In the Appellate Court, after you, as the appellant, have filed your brief, the Appellate Clerk then obtains a copy of your case file from the Trial Clerk.  The Appellate Clerk then reviews your initial complaint, particularly your "Statement of Issues" and other documents in the case and simply takes from the case file pleadings and rulings which he or she believes reflects the issues in the case.  

Then the Appellate Clerk organizes the material chronologically, prepares a Table of Contents, and sends the material on to you, the Appellant.  You then have 20 days within which to make 15 copies of the prepared record for the Appellate court, plus additional copies for the opposing counsel and the trial judge in the case.  

If you are not satisfied that the record sent to you by the Appellate Clerk has included content that you believe accurately reflects the nature of the case, you have the option of contacting the Clerk and making suggestions for adding or removing documents from the file.  This is where you play a crucial role in shaping the kinds of content that the Judge ultimately sees before him and this is where you need to be particularly insistent upon your right to have the record reflect your position in the case.  Remember you have every right to argue and negotiate regarding these points, as does opposing counsel, so do so as much as you need to without being annoying.  

As with so much in Appellate Court, when it comes to preparing the record it isn't so much the legal details that creates a problem, because by the time you've arrived in Appellate Court, most of the time you are likely to be thoroughly on top of the subject matter.  The problem becomes the physical labor of making multiple copies of an entire record for appeal and making sure the Table of Contents, the sequence of the documents, and the page numbering are all accurate.  This takes lots of time and is labor intensive.  

As the final touches come around, don't forget that the Practice Book 2011 requires that the cover of the record for appeal be a yellow color, plus you are supposed to staple the pages together in such a way that you are so many inches from the top and bottom, etc., etc.  The best way to avoid klutzing around over the stapling issue is to pay around $70.00 for velobind which makes the final product look extremely professional.  Plus you have the advantage that the sales clerk has to do it, not you since doing it that way requires special machinery.

Yes, I know it costs, but who has time to get out a ruler and make sure the staples are in the right place.  Don't forget, your time is money also.  

Once you hand in the finished product, the clerk should date stamp the copies (request that it be done and watch to be sure it is done) so there is no doubt that you have obeyed the rules regarding deadlines.  Then you are finished!  And what a relief!  

As you may know, this is my first time doing these procedures, so I approach them with a great deal of anxiety.  The good news is, as I've noticed, that once you've done them once, the next time is a breeze.  

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Ok, so the other day I talked about how, sometimes you get a ruling from a judge in family court and you are walking out dazed saying "What just happened!" Sometimes it is better to retire the issue and call it a day. The next issue that comes up may be similar and a good ruling on it may cancel out the bad ruling.

Ultimately, it isn't about winning each and every time, it is all about winning for the preponderance of the time, i.e. 51%. That 1% is enough to get you over the line to a complete win in your case, but at the same time, it is a reminder that for 49% of the time, you are losing. So, get used to it, a win here, a loss there, an uneven winny losy type ruling. It's all part of the game.

However, if you are really mad. I mean truly mad. And you are looking at a ruling you absolutely hate, that you absolutely believe is wrong. Don't leave that in trial court. Pick it up and take it across the street to Appellate court.

Ok, so you don't have to be that hot under the collar!

You can start by asking for an explanation of the ruling (motion for Clarification), then move on to a Motion to Vacate (get rid of that dang ruling pleeezzz!), or a Motion for Reconsideration, or a Motion to Reargue.

Once those options have been exhausted, THEN you cross over the street and try Appellate Court.

As a first step in that direction, download the 2010 Handbook of Appellate Procedure off the internet or obtain a copy at a law library. Also, go to the Appellate clerk's office and pick up the guidebook for self represented parties that explains a little of appellate procedure and provides examples of some of the forms you need to present to the court on an appeal.

Let me tell you, guys, it ain't over until it's over, not 'til the fat lady sings, and as a fine upstanding member of my blog audience, I'm trusting you to make her sing the way you want her to, or at the very least, give your enemies a good run for their money!