I Hired an Appellate Specialist, Now What?

by Jeffrey Lewis

The process of pursuing a civil appeal in California can be a bit of a mystery for the first time litigant or trial lawyer.  This post is the first in a series on explaining the process of a civil appeal.  The first and most critical step is to ensure that a proper and timely notice of appeal is filed.

Is the Order Appealable?  Not all judgments and orders are immediately appealable.  Some orders can only be reviewed by way of a statutory writ (such as orders on motions to expunge lis pendens, to disqualify judges and resolving Public Records Act requests).  A crucial and initial step is analyzing whether and how to seek review of the order or judgment, by writ or direct appeal.  If the order disposed of all claims between any two given parties, an appeal may lie.  If there are claims remaining to be litigated between the two parties, such as a pending cross-complaint, a discretionary writ may be the only way to seek review now rather than after entry of a final judgment.

Timing is Everything. In California, the normal deadline to file a notice of appeal is 60 days from when a party or clerk provides notice of entry of judgment. The deadline is jurisdictional. If the deadline is missed there is no right of appeal. Sometimes a different deadline applies if no party or clerk gave notice of entry of judgment or if any party filed a motion for new trial, vacate the judgment, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for reconsideration of an appealable order. When an order is entered by the court and you want to challenge it on appeal, consideration must be given as to whether the normal 60 day deadline applies or if one of the exceptions to the rule governs.

The notice of appeal is filed with the trial court along with the appropriate filing fee.  Assuming that the notice is timely and the judgment or order is appealable, the next step in the process is the designation of the record on appeal.

Jeffrey Lewis and the other attorneys at Broedlow Lewis LLP are experienced appellate attorneys who can advise you about the specifics of your writ or appeal.  Each case is different and you should consult a lawyer rather than relying on this post as legal advice for your situation.  If you are contemplating filing or responding to an appeal in Los Angeles or Orange County, consider hiring a certified appellate specialist as your lawyer or co-counsel.  Don’t wing it, win it.