Just Michigan Appeals
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I appeal? Should I appeal?
The trial court just ruled against you. Can you appeal? The simple answer to this question is yes, you can. Whether you should or should not file an appeal is a more difficult question. The first step in the appellate process is always to decide whether an appeal is warranted under all of the circumstances, including but not limited to whether the trial court erred in a way that can be corrected on appeal.
Why can’t I handle my own appeal?
The law does not require that you be represented by a lawyer on appeal. You have the legal right to represent yourself, but it is a complex and risky process requiring not only a knowledge of the law but a thorough understanding of the appellate rules.
Shouldn't I use my trial attorney for the appeal?
Even the very best lawyer at trial may not be the right lawyer for your appeal. Trials and appeals require substantially different skill sets. Successful trial attorneys often have little time to craft a detailed appellate brief and, by the end of trial, his or her objectivity may be compromised.
At trial, a lawyer's charisma, commanding presence, and skill at connecting with jurors may ultimately be the winning factor. On appeal, by contrast, the battle is largely fought on paper. To win, you will need an attorney who not only knows the law but can craft a clear, precise, and well-organized brief that is not merely persuasive, but compelling. He must understand the standards of review, the rules governing preservation of error, and the particular concerns of the appellate court. The brief must be credible and thorough and, at the same time, succinct and sensitive to the choice of words and logic. Its conclusions should feel unavoidable.
Your attorney’s ability to communicate skillfully in writing will determine the appellate judges’ first impressions of your case, and ultimately their final decisions. Hiring experienced appellate counsel will provide the edge you will need to succeed on appeal.
Is there a deadline for filing my appeal?
There certainly is, and in most cases it's a relatively short one. In most Michigan cases, there is a 21-day deadline within which to file your claim of appeal or application for leave to appeal and there are strict time requirements for obtaining and submitting the trial record and your appellate brief. If you miss this deadline, you may be able to file a delayed application for leave to appeal for up to six months from the date the judgement or order you want to appeal was filed in the trial court. The Michigan rules governing final orders are notoriously complex. Your trial attorney may or may not be familiar with that area of law. Many appeals are forfeited during these early stages because the right filing was not completed within a particular time limit.
If you feel that the judgment or order entered in your case is one that should be appealed, you should discuss it with your trial attorney immediately, and ask for a referral to an attorney specializing in appeals who will be able to assist your trial attorney in determining whether or when an appeal should be filed.
How long will it take to complete an appeal?
In Michigan, the time frame for completing an appeal depends on many factors. Certain cases, such as child custody matters, are expedited. As a general matter, approximately ninety percent of all cases before the Michigan Court of Appeals are concluded within 18 months of the initial filing. If your case is urgent, we can assist you in requesting the court to expedite your appeal.
How much does it cost to appeal?
Every appeal is unique, and the amount of time required to properly prepare an appeal will depend on many factors such as the complexity of the issues and the length of trial. Generally speaking, the cost of an appeal typically involves four factors:
- Court Fees - The appellate courts collect a fee for filing each appeal and for filing any motions filed during the appeal.
- Transcripts - For each full day of testimony, you should expect to pay approximately $500.00 for the court reporter to produce the transcripts.
- Processing of Briefs, copies, electronic filing fees, and other out-of-pocket costs... This can generally cost between $375.00 and $1,200.00, depending on the length of the trial and the number of documents that must be reproduced.
- Attorney Fees - The most simple appeals may cost as little as $5,000. However, depending on the complexity of the issues, the condition of the trial record, and numerous other factors, the cost will increase with the amount of time spent.
To assist our clients in meeting the expense of proceeding on appeal, our office offers discounted rates in select cases and also accepts payment by VISA, Mastercard and Discover.