How Do I Appeal a Colorado District Court Case?

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.