This is a guide that provides a general outline of the steps to be taken when appealing a case to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
The Final Judgment
The first step in the appeal process begins with a final judgment in the Circuit Court. This means that all the claims between the parties have been ruled on by the lower court and a final decision has been made. This stage occurs when there are no other actions that the parties can take against one another and nothing else that the lower court can do.
Determine the Date of the Final Judgment
After determining whether or not there is a final judgment, the party that wants to appeal the case, the appellant, has to determine the date that the final judgment was "entered". The date of entry "occurs on the day when the clerk of the Circuit Court enters a record on the docket of the electronic case management system used by that court." Md. Rule 8-202(f). It is important to know this date because the time for filing the notice of appeal is calculated from the date of entry, which is not necessarily always the same day the a final judgment is issued.
The Notice of Appeal and Civil Appeal Information Report
After deciding to appeal the case, the appellant has to file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the Circuit Court. For a civil case the notice of appeal shall be filed within 30 days after entry of the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken. Md. Rule 8-202(a). The notice of appeal must be filed with the clerk by the 30th day, mailing it on the 30th day is not sufficient, the notice of appeal must be in the custody of the clerk by the 30th day. The filing fee has to be paid at the time of filing the notice of appeal. A certificate of service verifying that a copy was served on the opposing party must be included with the notice of appeal. Additionally, in a civil case, the appellant is required to file a Civil Appeal Information Report. The Civil Appeal Information Report is provided to the appellant by the clerk of the Circuit Court upon filing the notice of appeal. Md. Rule 8-205(b). The appellant fills out the Civil Appeal Information Report and files it with the clerk of the Court of Special Appeals.
Alternative Dispute Resolution and Scheduling Congerences
Within 30 days of the filing of the Civil Appeal Information Report the Court of Special Appeals will determine if the case shall proceed with or without ADR, a mediation session or scheduling conference. Md. Rule 8-206.
The next step for the appellant is to order the transcripts. The transcripts are a record of everything that was said during the trail in the lower court. The time for ordering the transcripts is ten days from the date of an order entered pursuant to Rule 8-206 (a) (1) that the appeal proceed without a prehearing conference, or an order entered pursuant to Rule 8-206 (d) following a prehearing conference, unless a different time is fixed by that order, in all civil actions specified in Rule 8-205 (a), or ten days from the date the first notice of appeal is filed in all other actions. Md. Rule 8-411(b).
Transmittal of the Record
The record of the case has to be transmitted to the Court of Special Appeals. The record is composed of all the original papers, documents and evidence filed or presented in the original case. It also includes the transcripts of the trial and any other relevant hearings. The record is actually submitted by the clerk of the Circuit Court. However, it is the responsibility of the appellant to ensure the clerk has done so by the correct date.
The Record Extract
In a civil appeal to the Court of Special Appeals the appellant has a duty to submit a record extract. The appellant can submit the record extract as an attachment to appellant's brief, or as a separate volume. Md. Rule 8-501(a). The record extract contains all parts of the record that are reasonably necessary for the determination of the questions presented by the appeal. It shall include the Circuit Court docket entries, the judgment appealed from, and such other parts of the record as are designated by the parties pursuant to section (d) of Rule 8-501. Md. Rule 8-501(b). In the record extract the appellant should include all the documents presented in the Circuit Court. This includes transcripts, exhibits, dockets entries and a copy of the order being appealed. However, the record extract may not include any documents or evidence that was not a part of the Circuit Court case. The documents in the record extract should be placed in the order that they appeared in the original record. The pages of the record are to be renumbered consecutively. The appellant can put the record extract in the same volume as the brief or in a separate volume. Ten copies of the record extract are filed with the court, and two are served on each opposing party. Md. Rule 8-501.
The next step in the process is preparation and submission of the Brief. The brief is an explanation of the case and why the appellant thinks the Circuit Court's ruling was incorrect. First, appellant submits their brief within 40 days after the clerk sends notice of the filing of the record. Md. Rule 8-502(a)(1). Then the appellee's brief is due within 30 days after the filing of the appellant's brief. Md. Rule 8-502(a)(2). Appellant may file a reply brief. The rules require that 15 copies of each brief and 10 copies of each record extract shall be filed, and two copies of each brief and record extract shall be served on each party. Md. Rule 8-502(c). In addition to making legal arguments, and meeting the correct filing deadlines described above, the brief has some stylistic and formatting requirements that also have to be followed. The brief has to comply with rule 8-112 which governs the form of court papers. All briefs are required to be consecutively numbered and securely bound along the left margin. Md. Rule 8-503(a). A brief shall have a cover, appellant's brief has to use a yellow cover page, and appellee's is required to have green cover page. Md. Rule 8-503(c)(1)(A)-(B). The cover page shall contain the name of the appellate court, the caption of the case on appeal, the case number, contact information of the attorney, and if the appeal is from a decision of a trial court the cover page shall also include the name of the trial court and each judge of that court whose ruling is at issue in the appeal. Md. Rule 8-503(c). The contents of the brief are, a table of contents and a table of the case citations, statutes, constitutional provisions, ordinances, rules and regulations cited in the brief. Md. Rule 8-504(a)(1). Next is a brief statement of the case that indicates the nature of the case, the course of the proceedings and disposition in the Circuit Court. Md. Rule 8-504(a)(2). The appellee's brief shall not contain a statement of the case unless the appellee disagrees with the statement in the appellant's brief. Md. Rule 8-504(a)(2). A statement of the questions presented in the appeal are separately numbered and an indication of the legal propositions involved and the questions of fact at issue expressed in the terms and circumstances of the case without unnecessary detail. Md. Rule 8-504(a)(3). A clear concise statement of the facts material to a determination of the questions presented, reference shall be made to the pages of the record extract supporting the assertions. Md. Rule 8-504(a)(4). A concise statement of the applicable standard of review for each issue, argument in support of the party's position on each issue and a short conclusion stating the precise relief sought. Md. Rule 8-504(a)(5)-(7).
The appeal will be placed on the Court of Special Appeals' special calendar, or scheduled for oral argument. If the appeal is placed on the special calendar a three judge panel will decide the case on the briefs alone. If scheduled for oral argument the appellant and appellee will have to go to Annapolis and argue their case before a three judge panel. The oral argument is limited to the arguments made in the briefs. The Court of Special Appeals will then announce its decision in open court and issue a written opinion. If a party is not happy with the Court of Special Appeals' decision then they may appeal to the Court of Appeals of Maryland.
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