"To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out of a dungeon, those who sit in darkness out of a prison."
- Isaiah 42

What are the steps of the federal appeals process?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Federal Criminal Appeals

You might be unhappy with a decision in a federal district court, but you do not necessarily have to accept the result as-is.

Filing a federal appeal can give you a chance to challenge that ruling. Of course, you have already seen how it is possible for an outcome not to go your way, so it is beneficial to prepare thoroughly for the steps of the appeal process.

Determining the jurisdiction and court

Make sure the federal court can hear your case before you start your appeal. There are certain decisions, such as those by administrative agencies and bankruptcy, that the court will not accept. Once you know your case qualifies for appeal, you can move on.

You then must figure out which U.S. Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over your case. The country has 12 different circuits, each with its own Court of Appeals. You can use the location of the original trial to determine which circuit you must appeal to.

Preparing the Notice Of Appeal

The Notice of Appeal is a formal document that begins the appeal process. You must file it with the Clerk of the District Court where your trial occurred. Fill out this form completely with details including the names of the parties, the case number and details about the specific judgment or order you are appealing.

Timing is important when filing a Notice of Appeal, and you usually have 30 days from the date of the judgment or order you are appealing to file your Notice of Appeal. Be careful not to miss this deadline, or you might lose your right to appeal.

When filing your Notice of Appeal, you usually must pay a filing fee. The amount varies by court, so find out how much it is. However, you might qualify for a fee waiver if you cannot afford to pay.

Assembling the record on appeal and filing the appellate brief

Next, the district court will put together a record of all the documents and transcripts that relate to your case and form the basis of your appeal. Once the record on appeal is ready, you must file an appellate brief. This document lays out your legal arguments and the issues you want the Court of Appeals to review. The other party may also file a brief in response to yours.

There are several steps to the appeals process, and one misstep could harm your case. Prepare carefully, and you may improve your odds of prevailing the second time around.