Initiating and Presenting an Appeal
Once the Superior Court has issued an appealable order or judgment, a party can begin the process of initiating and presenting an Appeal. To initiate the Appeal, the party must file a timely Notice of Appeal. In certain criminal cases that resulted in a plea or admission, the party also must obtain a Certificate of Probable Cause. After initiating an Appeal, the party must ensure that the appellate record is complete and accurate, must prepare and file appellate briefs, and, in the event of an adverse appellate ruling, must consider whether to file a Petition for Review with the California Supreme Court.Notice of Appeal
To initiate an Appeal under California law, a party must file a timely Notice of Appeal in the Superior Court. The time deadlines for filing a Notice of Appeal differ based on the type of criminal or civil case.
The deadlines to file a Notice of Appeal in a criminal case are measured from the date of the appealable order or judgment. The deadline is 60 days from the appealable order or judgment in felony cases and 30 days in misdemeanor and infraction cases. The deadline is 60 days in juvenile cases, except in certain cases heard by “referees” as defined in California Rules of Court, rule 8.406.
The deadlines to file a Notice of Appeal in a civil case are generally measured from the time a party was served with notice of the Judgment. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.104.) Assuming proper notice of the Judgment, the deadline to file a Notice of Appeal is 60 days from notice of the appealable Judgment in an unlimited civil cases and 30 days in limited civil cases. Without proper notice of the Judgment, the 60-day and 30-day deadlines are converted to respective deadlines of 180 and 90 days after Entry of Judgment. (See id.) Personal injury cases involving more than $25,000 in controversy generally qualify as unlimited civil cases. (See Code of Civ. Proc. sections 85-89.)Certificate of Probable Cause
In addition to filing a timely Notice of Appeal, a party who wants to initiate an appeal in a California criminal case may have to obtain a Certificate of Probable Cause from the Superior Court. The Certificate is required when an appeal challenges the validity of a guilty or no contest plea or the validity of an admitted probation violation. To obtain a Certificate, the party must provide a written statement under penalty of perjury explaining why there is good cause to believe that his plea or admission was invalid. The statement must be filed within the same time deadline that applies to the Notice of Appeal.
A person who has pled guilty or admitted a probation violation should take care to consult an experienced appellate attorney about whether he needs to obtain a Certificate of Probable. Many issues that might seem to pertain to sentencing actually pertain to the validity of a plea or admission and require a Certificate as a prerequisite for Appeal.Record on Appeal
Appellate review is limited to the trial court record. In a criminal case, the Court Clerk and Court Reporter in the Superior Court assemble the “normal” record items and transmit them to the appellate court and parties. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.320.) The parties are responsible for ensuring that the record is complete and accurate.
In a civil case, the parties are responsible for designating the record on appeal. Although certain records must be included in the designated record, many crucial items such a written motions, hearing transcripts, requested jury instructions, and exhibits must be designated by a party. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.122.)Briefing
Once the record on appeal is filed, the next step is for the parties to prepare and file their appellate briefs. The appellant is required to submit an Opening Brief and the opposing party a Respondent's Brief. After the Respondent’s Brief, the appellant may submit a final reply brief. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rules 8.200, 8.360.) After the briefing, the parties have the opportunity to submit their cases at an oral argument before the reviewing court.Petitions for Review
A party who does not obtain the decision he wants from the appellate court may be able to petition the California Supreme Court to review the case. Except in death penalty cases, a defendant in a criminal case is not entitled to review by the Supreme Court. A party must take care in his Petition for Review to explain why the issues are important enough that the Supreme Court should accept review of the case.
The Supreme Court tends to accept cases where its decision (a) would resolve differences in Court of Appeal opinions or (b) settle a question that has some larger legal significance. (See Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.500.) The court also may accept cases where it has the chance to settle jurisdictional questions and address significant defects in appellate procedure. (See id.)Appellate Representation
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