After receiving a judgment in the superior court, a party can file a notice of appeal to have a higher court review the superior court proceedings. A notice of appeal is a relatively simple form that is filed in the Superior Court which informs the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal that you are challenging the trial court's judgment. Depending upon the type of case you are challenging, the notice of appeal generally must be filed within the first 30-60 days following the Superior Court judgment.
Preparation of Court Transcripts
After a notice of appeal is filed in the Superior Court, the court reporters are ordered prepare a copy of the clerk's file (the "Clerks Transcripts) and a copy of the reporter's notes from the court hearings (the "Reporters Transcripts.)
Appellant's Opening Brief
After the transcripts are completed, the criminal appellate attorney will review the court transcripts to determine what, if any, legal errors were made in the trial court. The attorney will then submit a written "brief" to the Court of Appeal explaining what errors occurred and asking the Court for a specific remedy.
The attorney for the respondent will review both the court transcripts and the appellant's opening brief. The opposing attorney will then submit their own brief contesting the legal errors claimed by the appellant.
Appellant's Reply Brief
Because the appellant has the burden of persuasion on appeal, the courts permit the appellant to file a second brief called a "Reply Brief". In a reply brief, the appellate attorney can respond to points raised by the opposing side. Typically, no new issues can be raised in the reply brief.
After briefing is complete, the attorneys may request oral argument. Oral argument is a court hearing where the two appellate attorneys discuss the issues with three Court of Appeal justices. Arguments are typically very short in duration, and tend to be academic in nature, focusing on legal issues. No witnesses are called and no new evidence is introduced. In criminal cases, if the defendant is in custody, the defendant will not be permitted to attend oral argument.
A panel of three Court of Appeal justices review the transcripts, the briefs filed, and conduct their own independent research. Based upon their review of the arguments and the law, the justices will then prepare a written ruling. The written ruling typically contains a summary of the facts of the case, a summary of the arguments raised, and analysis from the Court as to whether or not the trial court's judgment needs to be corrected.
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