How do I start an appeal?

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2019 | appellate law |

A trial court’s judgment or court order that went against you can seem like a conclusive end to your case. However, if you feel the judgment was unfair or erroneous, you can file an appeal. This article discusses the basic procedures for starting an appeal in Illinois state courts. However, you should consult a qualified attorney to determine which rules apply to your own appeal.

Notice of Appeal filing deadlines, exceptions and extensions

The appeal process begins with a Notice of Appeal. This document informs both the trial court and the opposing party that you are seeking appellate review of the case.

Illinois has strict deadlines for requesting an appeal. You, or your attorney, must file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days after the trial court enters a formal judgment on your case. Keep in mind, this 30-day timeline includes both weekends and holidays. If the last day is a weekend or holiday, then the deadline is extended to the next court date.

There are a few exceptions to these deadlines. If for instance, the final court judgment only completes a portion of your case, it normally cannot be appealed until after all portions of the case are decided. However, there are some appeals that can or must be filed even if the rest of the case is still pending. A party desiring to appeal should contact an attorney to determine which of the deadlines applies.

If any party involved with the case files a motion to reconsider, a motion for a new trial, or other motion seeking to vacate or modify the judgment, the time to file the notice of appeal does not start to run until that motion is resolved. In fact, after a jury trial, such a motion is required. You have 30 days in which to file your Notice of Appeal following the court’s ruling regarding one of these motions.

If needed, you can request more time to file an appeal by filing a Motion for Extension within the timeframe in which your original Notice of Appeal was due.

Required information

Illinois court rules require the Notice of Appeal to provide information regarding the original case, including:

  • The appellate court to which the appeal is taken;
  • The case caption, including the county of the trial court, the case number, and the names of the parties, naming which one is seeking the appeal (the “appellant”) and the other parties (“appellees”);
  • The type of appeal requested, such as “notice of appeal,” “cross-appeal,” “separate appeal”;
  • The date of every judgment or order that you seek to appeal;
  • The request for the relief you are seeking, such as a reversal or modification of the judgment;
  • Your contact information, including e-mail address;
  • Your signature;
  • A completed Proof of Service form demonstrating how you notified or plan to notify other relevant parties of your request for an appeal.

You should not include any arguments as to why you believe the trial court’s judgment was wrong. That takes place later, when the briefs are filed with the Appellate Court.

The Notice of Appeal is filed with the clerk of the trial court, not the appellate court. Note, Illinois requires all documents, including notices of appeal, to be filed electronically. If needed, court offices have a computer and scanner to use onsite.

Final steps to initiate an appeal

After completing and filing the Notice of Appeal, you must send copies of the notice to all other parties, or their attorneys and provide that Proof of Service to the Appellate Court. You receive a separate case number from the Appellate Court. Finally, within 14 days of filing your notice, you must file, in the Appellate Court, a docketing statement and pay an appearance fee. At the same time, you will need to ask the trial court clerk and the court reporters to prepare the record of proceedings in the trial court, including everything filed in the case, transcripts of testimony, and exhibits.

Congratulations! You have successfully initiated an appeal. In the future, we will discuss the procedures involved in preparing the record, briefing, and oral argument.