Perfecting the Appeal

After filing the Notice of Appeal, the appeal must be perfected. This means you need to get the case ready for the Appellate Court. This may include getting a transcript of the trial, preparing the record on appeal, writing and serving a brief and getting the case on the court’s calendar. The rules on how to perfect an appeal are not easy to understand. Contact the court where you are filing your appeal to find out what papers you need to file, the number of copies you need, where to file the appeal and the time limits to do everything. Each court has different rules about perfecting the appeal. The rules depend on where you are appealing from and where you are appealing to. The rules also depend on which way you are perfecting the appeal. Use the court locator box to find out how to contact the court.

Below are some common terms you may hear when perfecting an appeal, including Transcript, Brief, Record on Appeal, and Full Record Method, Appendix Method and Agreed Statement Method



A transcript is a record of the trial or hearing made by a court reporter or a digital recorder. In most cases you need a transcript if you are appealing the decision after a trial or hearing. You don’t need a transcript if you are appealing a decision on motion papers. If the record was made by a court reporter, contact the court reporter to ask for a transcript and how much it costs. It the trial was digitally recorded, contact the trial court to find out what to do. You have to pay for a transcript unless you have a fee waiver. Do not wait because all the courts have time limits.

After you have the transcript read it to make sure that it is correct. If it is correct serve a copy on the other side. If you think that something is wrong with the transcript, make a list of suggested corrections, listing the page and line. For example, if the transcript says that the cars crashed at 3:30 pm, but you remember testifying that it was at 2:30 pm, list the page number and the line number and the change: “Page 14, Line 6: 3:30 pm. should be 2:30 pm.” Serve a copy of the transcript with the corrections on the other side. The other side may also have a list of corrections. You and the other side should talk to each other and try to agree on the corrections. If you agree, you and the other side should sign a Stipulation that lists the corrections. If you don’t agree, you have to ask the Judge to decide. Contact the Court Clerk or a Help Center to find out what to do. See How Legal Papers are Delivered.

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A brief is a written explanation of the reasons you are appealing. It tells the story about what happened in the trial court and explains how the law impacts your facts and shows that the lower court’s decision was wrong. The other side has a right to serve a brief in opposition to yours. You can serve a reply brief. If you want to argue your case in front of the Appellate Judges, you must ask for this in the brief. There are strict rules about how to put the brief together. Contact the Court Clerk.

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The Record on Appeal

The Record on Appeal consists of copies of the papers that the appeal is about. The Record may include everything that the lower court considered when making the decision if you are using the Full Record Method.

The Record usually includes most of the following papers:

  • The Notice of Appeal with proof that it was served and filed.
  • The order or judgment that is being appealed.
  • The decision being appealed.
  • The judgment roll.
  • The pleadings.
  • The settled transcript.
  • Any motion papers that have to do with the appeal.
  • Any exhibits that have to do with the appeal.

Contact the Court Clerk or visit a Help Center to make sure you make the Record on Appeal the right way.

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Full Record, Appendix and Agreed Statement Methods

There are three ways to perfect the appeal: the Full Record Method, the Appendix Method and the Agreed Statement Method.

In the Full Record Method you have to give the Appellate Court everything that the lower court has reviewed.

In the Appendix Method, you choose the documents you think the court needs to review in order to decide the issues on appeal.

In the Agreed Statement Method you and the other side make a joint statement about the appeal.

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