Category: Appeals

How Do Appeals Work in Colorado?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - November 1, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals

In any jurisdiction, an appeal is a legal proceeding through which a party that received an adverse decision seeks review of that decision in a higher court. An appeal is not an opportunity to re-litigate a case or present new evidence, but rather to point out an error that occurred in the trial court.

The first step to filing an appeal is determining what court has jurisdiction to hear your appeal, and when the deadline is to file your notice of appeal. It is vital that you file your notice of appeal within the correct deadline with the correct court. In most cases, failure to do so will be fatal to an appeal.

The reviewing court will decide your appeal based on the record. The record contains pertinent documents evidencing what happened at the trial level, including pleadings, transcripts, and orders. Generally, a litigant cannot add newly discovered materials to the record. It is important to show that the alleged error has been preserved – meaning that you or your attorney pointed out the error via objection or motion, and the trial court had an opportunity to issue an appropriate ruling.

The process of an appeal is lengthy and uneventful. You or your attorney will review the record, then make your argument in writing (your opening brief). The appellee will have an opportunity to file a written answer to your opening brief, after which you may (but are not required to) file a reply brief. Following submission of these three briefs, neither party is permitted to file any additional materials. In most cases, the court will decide the case based on the briefs and record, then file a written decision.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation.

Who are the Colorado Supreme Court Justices?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - October 18, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals

Justiceswithcaption2015The Colorado Supreme Court is made up of seven justices who serve ten-year terms. The current seven justices are Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice, and Justices Nathan B. Coats, Allison H. Eid, Monica M. Márquez, Brian D. Boatright, William W Hood, III, and Richard L. Gabriel.

To become a justice, an attorney must be recommended by the Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission. The nominating commission is made up of seventeen members, eight of which are non-attorneys. To serve on the commission, a potential member must apply with the nominating commission liaison. Of the nominees, the Governor of Colorado will appoint one to serve. The appointed nominee will serve an initial term of ten years, and then must earn retention through a general election.

Because of the nomination scheme, judicial terms will expire periodically as a particular justice’s term ends. A justice who achieves initial retention will then begin serving a ten-year term. Justices may seek retention at the end of any ten-year term, but must retire at age 72.

Photographs, biographies, and contact information for current supreme court justices can be found on the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Web page, here.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation.

Who are the Judges on the Colorado Court of Appeals?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - October 4, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals

JudgeThe Colorado Court of Appeals consists of 22 judges each serving an eight-year term. To become a judge, an attorney must be nominated by commission, and then appointed by the Governor of Colorado. A newly nominated judge will serve a two-year term, and then must achieve retention through a general election. Judges who achieve retention will then begin serving their eight-year term.

Because of this nomination scheme, judicial appointments expire periodically as a particular judge’s eight-year term comes to a close. At the end of this term, the judge may seek retention for another term or retire. Judicial retirement is mandatory at age 72.

The judges hear and decide cases in panels of three. The chief judge – who is appointed to serve indefinitely by the Colorado Supreme Court – makes all case assignments. Currently, the honorable Alan M. Loeb serves as chief judge.

Photographs, biographies, and contact information for each judge can be found on the Colorado Judicial Branch Web page, here.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation.

What is Jurisdiction?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - September 20, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals

A particular court’s jurisdiction refers to what types of cases it is authorized to hear, or the scope of its power. A court of general jurisdiction is a court that can hear any type of case that may arise within its assigned geographic location, such as civil, criminal, or family.

Most state court systems divide jurisdiction between various courts. For example, a new case in the state courts of Colorado would be filed in a trial level court. Which trial level court depends on the type of case being filed: municipal court for municipal code violations, small claims courts for civil disputes valuing $7,500 or less, county courts for state law matters, civil disputes above the small claims limit, traffic offenses, and misdemeanor criminal offenses, and state district courts for felony offenses, civil matters exceeding the jurisdiction of county courts, and other specified matters.

Importantly, each of these courts have their own set of rules, deadlines, and procedures. For example, civil cases in the county courts are governed by the Colorado Rules of County Court Civil Procedure, whereas criminal cases in the county courts are governed by Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure. Failure to adhere to the correct rules may result in dismissal of your case.

Most adverse decisions entered within trial level courts may be appealed. The court that has jurisdiction over a particular appeal is determined by the court that entered the final order at the trial level. The district court hears most appeals from the municipal courts and county courts (civil and criminal). Appeals from the district court are within the jurisdiction of the Colorado Court of Appeals. Finally, an adverse decision from the court of appeals may be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

If you file your case in the incorrect court, the court will dismiss the matter for lack of jurisdiction – regardless of the merits of your claim.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation.

How to Appeal to the Tenth Circuit

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - September 6, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals, Federal Appeals

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over the federal districts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. In almost all cases, a would-be appellant cannot initiate a case in this court until he has received a final judgment within the district court. Through the ensuing appeal, the appellant can argue the district court erred in any order it issued prior to entry of final judgment.

Appeals before the Tenth Circuit are governed by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (“Fed. R. App. P.”), which can be found here. These rules require the appellant begin by filing a notice of appeal that complies with Fed. R. App. P. 3 in terms of content, and Fed. R. App. P. 4 in terms of timeliness. As with an appeal before any court, it is vital that appellants adhere to the deadline to file a notice of appeal.

When filing the notice of appeal, the appellant must also pay the full appellate filing and docketing fee (currently $505) to the district court. Additionally, if a transcript is required for the appeal, appellant must request preparation of this transcript by filing a request with the district court.

Once the district court has determined that the record is complete, the court of appeals will set a deadline for filing all briefs. This deadline may be extended via motion, however these motions are disfavored. If you anticipate needing additional time, it is best to file a motion for extension at least five days prior to expiration of a deadline.

Appellant’s opening brief should comply with requirements in both the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure as well as the 10th Circuit Local Rules. These requirements govern the format, content, length, and service requirements of the opening brief. The appellant’s opening brief will be followed by the appellee’s answer brief, and appellant’s optional reply brief.

If your case is scheduled for oral argument, you will be notified of this decision approximately two months ahead of your scheduled argument date. Litigants are generally permitted 15 minutes of argument, each. Following oral argument (if scheduled) or submission on briefs (if no argument is scheduled), the court will issue a written decision. There is no timetable for determining how long a decision may take.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today.

How Do I Appeal a Colorado District Court Case?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - August 23, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals

In most cases, a loss in a Colorado District Court case may be appealed directly to the Colorado Court of Appeals. In order to preserve the opportunity to pursue an appeal, however, a litigant must pay careful attention to the Colorado Appellate Rules (“CAR”) and the deadlines contained therein.

The first step is filing and serving a notice of appeal. This document must contain all information required by either CAR 3(d) (civil cases), or CAR 3(g) (criminal cases). To file, the litigant must (1) serve the original on the court of appeals, and (2) provide a copy to the trial court and all parties. The deadline for completing these actions is generally 49 days following entry of the order appealed from.

The filing fee for a notice of appeal is currently $223. You may additionally be required to pay an appellate bond of $250 to the district court – the clerk can advise whether this fee is applicable to your case. If you cannot pay these fees, you may complete and file Form JDF 205, which can be downloaded from the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Web page, here, to request a waiver.

Within 14 days after filing the notice of appeal, you must file and serve the designation of record on appeal. As with the notice of appeal, this document must be filed with both the district court and the court of appeals. At this point in the appeal, it is also important to ask the clerk how to begin ordering necessary transcripts.

Within 13 weeks of filing the designation of record on appeal, the district court will send the case record to the court of appeals. This event begins the clock on your deadline to file your opening brief: 42 days after the record is filed. If you chose to draft appellate documents yourself, pay attention to the court’s strict formatting rules contained in CAR 32, as well as content requirements contained in CAR 28.

In your opening brief, you must explain how the district court erred, and why the court of appeals should address the error. Importantly, an appeal must be based on the record and cannot incorporate any new information. The opposing party will have 35 days from service of your opening brief to file an answer brief, then you may choose to file and serve a reply brief within 21 days of service of the answer. The court will likely decide your case without a hearing and issue a written decision.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman Law Firm today for your free consultation.

How Do I Appeal a County Court Judgment in a Civil Action?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - August 9, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals

As a litigant in a civil county court case, you have the option to appeal an adverse order to the district court of the same county. This type of appeal is governed by Colorado Rule of County Court Civil Procedure 411, and has different rules and deadlines than a traditional appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

To initiate an appeal, the appellant must file two documents within 14 days of entry of the adverse judgment:

  • Notice of Appeal: One original to the county court, one original to the district court, and one copy to every party; and
  • Designation of Record: One original to the county court, one original to the district court, and one copy to every party.

A fill-in-the-blank version of these forms can be downloaded from the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Web page, here. When you file these documents, you will also have to pay a filing fee of $163, and pay an appeals bond (amount determined by the court) in cash or certified funds. At this point, you should also ask the clerk what the court’s procedures are for ordering case transcripts, and provide a self-addressed stamped envelope that the Court will use to provide you a copy of the written opinion.

Once you have timely filed all necessary documents and paid all necessary fees, the county court will prepare the court record within 42 days. Your appellate brief must be filed with the district court and served on all other parties within 21 days of the court’s filing of the record on appeal. The District Attorney will have 21 days following receipt of your brief to file an answer.

After briefs have been filed, the district court will decide your appeal without a hearing, and mail a written ruling to all parties.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the possibility of a new trial in your case, contact the Alderman Law Firm today.

How Do I Appeal a County Court Judgment in a Criminal Action?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - July 26, 2017 - Appeals, Criminal Appeals

As a criminal defendant in a county court case, you have the option to appeal an adverse order to the district court of the same county. This type of appeal is governed by Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure 37, and has different rules and deadlines than a traditional appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

To begin the appeal, you must file and serve the following two documents within 35 days of entry of the adverse decision in the county court:

  • Notice of Appeal: One original to the county court, one original to the district court, and one copy for the district attorney; and
  • Notice of Record & Designation of Record: One original to the county court, one original to the district court, and one copy for the district attorney.

For self-represented litigants, a fill-in-the-blank Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record on Appeal can be downloaded in PDF or Word form from the Colorado Judicial Branch’s Web page.

At the time of filing these documents, you will also be responsible for paying various fees. These fees include a filing fee of $70, and may also include an appeal bond (price varies), a fee for transcripts (price varies), and a fee for preparation of the record on appeal (price varies). The clerk of court will assist you in determining what fees you are responsible for paying.

Once you have timely filed all necessary documents and paid all necessary fees, the county court will prepare the court record within 42 days. Your appellate brief must be filed with the district court and served on the district attorney within 21 days of the court’s filing of the record on appeal. The district attorney will have 21 days following receipt of your brief to file an answer, then you may submit a reply brief within 14 days of receipt of the answer.

After briefs have been filed, the district court will decide your appeal without a hearing, and mail a written ruling to all parties.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman law Firm today.

A Deadline Expired in my Colorado Appeal, What Can I Do?

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - July 12, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Criminal Appeals

In any appeal, it is vital to pay attention to all deadlines. In a worst-case scenario, a missed deadline can be fatal to an appeal. However, the Colorado Appellate Rules allow a litigant to request an extension of a missed deadline in certain, limited instances. Courts are often loathe to grant such requests, however, so litigants should use these rules as a last resort, rather than as a matter of course.

Colorado Appellate Rule (“CAR”) 26(b) governs enlargement of time for any deadline in an appeal before the Colorado Court of Appeals. This rule provides that the court of appeals may, “for good cause shown,” permit an act to be done after the corresponding deadline has expired.

So how can you show “good cause?” CAR 26(b) does not explicitly define this term. However, Colorado case law considering motions for extension under CAR 26(b) have explained that, in order to show “good cause,” a litigant must establish that his failure to meet the appropriate deadline was the result of “excusable neglect.” Excusable neglect exists where surrounding circumstances would cause a similarly situated, reasonably prudent person to overlook the deadline at issue. The standard is very high, and can not be based on simply needing more time to consider your options.

Any request under CAR 26(b) should be made as soon as a litigant realizes he missed a deadline, and should list all reasons why the deadline was missed. The deciding court has broad discretion to determine whether to grant it.

By its terms, CAR 26(b) explicitly excludes the deadline to file a notice of appeal in a civil case: meaning this deadline is not extendable.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman law Firm today.

Attorney Penix Argues Before the Seventh Circuit

Posted by Chelsey Bradley - June 28, 2017 - Appeals, Civil Appeals, Uncategorized

On January 19, 2017, managing attorney Kimberly Penix argued before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on behalf of plaintiff-appellant in Sabina Burton v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, et. al. The primary issue in the case was whether Burton was entitled to relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While there is no video of the case, the audio is available here:

http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/sound/2017/ab.16-2982.16-2982_01_19_2017.mp3

On March 17, 2017, the Court of Appeals entered a decision affirming the judgment of the district court.

To speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your appeal, contact the Alderman law Firm today for your free consultation.