If one or both parties are unhappy with a final ruling made by a trial judge, they may appeal that decision to the appropriate appellate court asking that the decision be reversed or modified.
There are five appellate courts throughout the state and the location of the appellate court chosen depends on the location of the trial court. They are located in Chicago, Elgin, Ottawa, Springfield and Mt. Vernon. The Illinois Supreme Court, also located in Springfield, oversees all of the courts in the state.
While many people choose to represent themselves in the trial court, very few have the skills necessary to successfully handle an appeal without legal assistance. Deadlines are strictly enforced and there are very precise requirements for all filings.
Here is a general summary of how it works:
An appeal is started by one of the parties filing a notice of appeal in the trial court. This generally must be filed within 30 days of a final order. The trial court case file, exhibits, and any transcripts from hearings are compiled and sent to the appellate court. The person filing an appeal, known as “the appellant,” files a memorandum of law called a “brief.” This is an ironic name because these documents are rarely brief, they often exceed 40 pages in length. The responding party, known as “the appellee” then has an opportunity to file his or her own brief and then the appellant can file a final reply to the appellee’s brief.
After the briefs have been filed with the appellate court, a panel of three appellate judges will review the court record along with the appellate briefs. The appellate justices may ask that the lawyers appear in the appellate court and argue their positions. At that hearing, known as an “oral argument,” the appellate judges typically ask many questions, which helps them decide the case. At the conclusion of the oral argument, the appellate judges will take the matter under advisement and issue a written ruling within a relatively short period of time.
At the conclusion of the appeal, the appellate court has a number of options: the ruling will either affirm the trial judge, which means that the ruling will stand, or it will reverse the trial judge and change the trial court ruling. Most frequently, the appellate court, if it thinks the trial judge made a mistake, will send the case back to the trial judge for further proceedings consistent with the appellate court’s direction.
Once the appellate decision is entered, either party may ask the Supreme Court to review the appellate decision but the Supreme Court accepts very few cases.
From start to finish, the typical appeal lasts one year. In family law matters affecting children, there is an expedited schedule and those matters are resolved much more quickly.
Not all court orders are appealable. An order must be considered final before it can be appealed. For example, a temporary support order cannot be appealed until the divorce is final.
The lawyers at Peskind Law Firm regularly represent people in appellate court. Mr. Peskind has argued before the Illinois Supreme Court on two occasions and has personally handled many appeals during his career. The rules of the appellate court are very complicated and you need a law firm with the proven skill and experience at your side in the appellate courts of this state.
If you have any questions, contact Jenna Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call us at (630)444-0701.
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