Exactly how one does an appeal varies greatly from court to court. Within New York State, there exist several courts involved in appeals. For example, a Justice Court appeal is generally taken to a County Court. A County Court decision, a Family Court decision, or a Supreme Court decision is generally taken to an Appellate Division Court. An Appellate Court decision may sometimes be taken to the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court.
What I most frequently handle in upstate New York are appeals to the Third Department Appellate Division, with a courthouse in Albany. Sometimes, I accept Fourth Department Appellate Division appeals, with a courthouse in Rochester. While there are differences between the two appeals courts, there are also similarities.
Appeals to the Third Department involve the preparation of several documents to go to the higher court. First, a Record on Appeal is prepared. This is a document containing the legal documents, transcripts of lower court proceedings, and any exhibits that were in the lower court case. Only what was before the lower court judge may be in the Record on Appeal. No new evidence may be introduced.
The Third Department Justices prefer that an Appendix be prepared. This is a short version of the Record on Appeal, containing the material important to the legal arguments in the Briefs. The Briefs are: Appellant’s Brief, Respondent’s Brief, and, sometimes, an Appellant’s Reply Brief. These Briefs inform the Justices of the legal arguments on all sides of a decision/order which at least one side wants to change. Legal research into other, similar cases is essential.
The Fourth Department prefers the use of a Record on Appeal instead of an Appendix.
After these documents have been prepared and submitted to the appeals court, an oral argument may sometimes be necessary. This is a short appearance in Albany or Rochester at the courthouses. It gives the Justices a chance to ask questions about the case. An appeals court decision and order will follow.
As you can see, quite a bit of work goes into doing an appeal. Many of the rules of document preparation are quite technical. However, some issues just cannot be settled at the lower court level. Appeals are part of a lawsuit, of litigation. They are best left to an attorney familiar with appeals.
If you would like a free initial consultation to discuss your options and a possible appeal, please call me at 1-607-798-1074, or use the contact form to e-mail me.