What types of decisions can be appealed?
Usually only final decisions of a trial court can be appealed. If the trial court makes a ruling during your case but the decision does not end your case completely, you generally have to wait until the case is completely finished before you can appeal that decision. There are some situations where you may be able to ask the appellate court to accept “discretionary review” of a decision before the case is finished, but in those situations you need to demonstrate to the court of appeals why the appeal must be heard now instead of at the end of the case.
How long do I have to appeal my case?
You have only 30 days from entry of an order terminating your case to file an appeal.
What happens after I file an appeal?
After filing an appeal, you are responsible for making sure that a record of the trial court proceedings gets transmitted to the court of appeals. This includes copies of the pleadings, any transcripts of hearings and testimony, and any trial exhibits. Once the record from the trial court is transmitted to the court of appeals, each party must prepare and file written arguments with the appellate court. Depending on the case, the court of appeals will then either decide the case based upon the written arguments or ask the parties to present oral argument.
A more detailed outline of the appeal process can be found here: http://www.courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/chartrap.doc
How long will my appeal take?
Appeal lengths vary depending on the particular circumstances of each case, but you can expect that it will take several months to more than a year to pass between the time you filed your appeal and a decision is issued.
What happens to the trial court order or judgment while my appeal is pending?
The trial court’s order generally stays in place and can be enforced while you appeal your case. This means that if a judgment has been entered against you, the other side can take collection action on the judgment or other action to enforce the judgment even during the appeal. Usually the only way to prevent this is to ask the court to stay the judgment and/or post what is called an appeal bond. In the case of a monetary judgment, the appeal bond required is often the amount of the judgment, plus interest and any attorney fees or court costs that may be incurred by the other side during the appeal.
I have some new evidence that was not presented at trial, can I bring that up on appeal?
With few exceptions, the court of appeals does not consider any new evidence on appeal. The appeals court is primarily concerned with determining whether a mistake was made by the trial court based upon the evidence the trial court had before it at the time of the trial or hearing.
Should I hire a new lawyer for my appeal, or have my trial lawyer handle the appeal for me?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. By using your trial lawyer to handle your appeal, you benefit from the fact that he or she does not have to become familiar with the case, like a new attorney would. Your attorney is also likely to be aware of what errors may have taken place that can serve as the basis for an appeal. On the other hand, a new attorney can bring a fresh perspective to your case that your existing trial lawyer may not be able to. Also, if your trial lawyer is not experienced in appeals, it may be important to find one who is. The rules and procedures in appellate courts are different from those in a trial court, and you may benefit from hiring an attorney with the skills and experience of having handled appeals. If you are considering hiring a new appellate lawyer for an appeal, it is important to do so quickly since the time for filing an appeal is only 30 days.