The Appeals Process in Indiana
The Indiana Constitution gives parties the right to an appeal. However, while parties always have the right to at least one appeal in every case, that right must be exercised within the bounds of Indiana’s court rules regarding appeals and the relevant statutes. Knowing how and when to appeal an order or decision is critical to the overall result of your case.
When it comes to appeals in Indiana state court proceedings, there are three general types of orders. Final orders, which are immediately appealable, interlocutory (or non-final) orders that are appealable as of right, and can be appealed immediately or at the end of a case, and interlocutory orders that can be appealed immediately only at the discretion of a trial court judge and the Court of Appeals (but can also be appealed at the end of a case).
A “final judgment” is an order or decision that resolves the entire case. A party can appeal such a judgment by filing a notice of appeal within 30 days of the judgment. The general steps for an appeal include:
- Filing a notice of appeal;
- Paying the appellate filing fee;
- Obtaining a clerk’s record and transcript (if necessary); and
- Preparing and filing briefs with the Court of Appeals.
These briefs will be submitted to a panel of three judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals. These judges will review the briefs and related materials, and issue a written decision. The parties then have the option to seek either rehearing and ask the Court of Appeals to reconsider some or all of its opinion, or to seek transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court. The statistical success rate on either a petition for rehearing or transfer is low, so it is important to make as strong an argument as possible in the initial set of briefing to the Court of Appeals.
In certain circumstances, parties can appeal orders that do not resolve the entire case. Indiana Appellate Rule 14(A) identifies nine types of orders that are appealable by right, with the most common being:
- Orders for the payment of money;
- Orders for the sale or delivery of real property; and
- Orders dealing with preliminary injunctions.
If a trial court issues an order or decision that falls within one of the nine categories, then a party can appeal the same way as it would a final judgment.
If an order is not final and does not fall within one of the nine categories listed in Rule 14(A), a party must take additional steps involved to proceed with an appeal. These include:
- A party must file a motion with trial court asking for an appeal.
- If the trial court grants this motion, the party must then file a motion with the Court of Appeals seeking acceptance of the appeal.
- If the Court of Appeals grants that motion, then - and only then – can the party file the notice of appeal and proceed with the briefing.
These steps certainly add time (and money) to the appeals process. Therefore, appeals that are not appealable by right are generally reserved for very important or potentially case-dispositive orders.
For any appeal, the deadline to take the first step in the appellate process is usually thirty days from the date of the order. It is important to talk with your legal counsel and begin assessing whether to pursue an appeal as soon as possible after an adverse decision is received.
The experienced appellate attorneys at Barrett McNagny’s have pursued numerous appeals, and are happy to collaborate with trial counsel to discuss and assess if an order should be appealed.If you have questions or are considering pursuing an appeal, contact us today.