How to Appeal/Self-Representation

Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals

GUIDE TO APPEALS

2016

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. OVERVIEW

This guide has been created to explain the basic steps and procedures for filing and litigating appeals in the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals. Both the Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure and the Sixth District Court of Appeals Local Rules apply to all appeals filed in this court. This guide is not legal authority or a substitute for the requirements found in these rules. The official rules should still be consulted to provide a more detailed explanation. This guide is intended to aid pro se litigants as well as attorneys with little experience in appellate work by presenting the rules applicable to appeals in a more streamlined way.

II. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

An appeal is a proceeding in which the appellate court reviews a case already decided by another court. The appellate court does not hold another trial, but makes their decision based upon the information presented by the parties at the trial level. The appellate judges will examine the trial proceedings to determine if the wrong decision was made by the trial court. You can appeal as of right from a final order, after the trial court has decided the case and entered judgment. In short, when your case is completed at the trial level, an appeal is how you can try to change the outcome of the case.

There are a few basic terms to become familiar with if you wish to file an appeal. First and foremost, appellant and appellee: the appellant is the party attempting to reverse the trial court judgment. The appellee is the party arguing that the trial court judgment was correct. A pro se litigant is someone who will represent himself or herself, without obtaining legal counsel.

A cross appeal occurs when both parties of the original litigation want to appeal the decision. When both parties file an appeal against each other, the first one to file is referred to as the appellant; the other party is then the cross-appellant.

The record is the collection of documents from the trial court that the appellate court will read to see how the trial decision was made. The record would show what types of evidence was introduced, what testimony was given, and what occurred during trial proceedings; which documents are included will depend on the issue that is being appealed.

Briefs are the documents each side writes to explain their legal arguments, as well as to summarize relevant information from the record.

III. HOW TO START AN APPEAL

To appeal a decision, a few documents must be filed with the trial court. These documents include the notice of appeal, praecipe, and docketing statement; they are described in more detail below. You must provide the trial court clerk the original document as well as a sufficient number of copies. There must be the original copy of each, as well as two copies for the clerk to give to the court of appeals, one for the court reporter (if a transcript of proceedings has been ordered), and one copy for each other party in the proceeding.

In other words, the court must receive at minimum four of each of these forms; an additional copy if you require a transcript of proceedings, and an additional copy for each other party in the appeal, if there is more than just one appellee and one appellant.

Notice of Appeal:

To file an appeal, you must file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the trial court within 30 days of the entry of final judgment.  Sample Notice of Appeal. Specifically, it must be actually received by the clerk, not just postmarked, within 30 days. If any post-judgment motions were made at the trial level, such as a motion for new trial or objection to a magistrate’s decision, then the 30 days will begin to run once the trial court enters an order resolving all of the post-judgment motions.

You must attach a copy or the judgment or order from the trial court to the notice of appeal. The judgment or order must contain the trial judge’s signature, as well as the date the judgment or order was entered.

Praecipe:

In addition to the notice of appeal, you must file a praecipe.  Praecipe Form. The praecipe directs the trial court to compile the necessary trial records for the appellate court’s review. The praecipe must state whether the record should contain a transcript of proceedings or statement, and which particular transcripts are required (for example, transcripts of testimony, voir dire, or closing argument). You are responsible for contacting the court reporter to order the transcripts requested. You must consider why you are appealing the trial court decision; where in the trial process are you arguing the mistake occurred? You will need support for you arguments by including the records from that specific part trial proceeding. For instance, if you wanted to appeal a decision based upon a problem with the jury selection, you would request the transcripts from voir dire.

Docketing Statement:

A docketing statement must also be filed with the notice of appeal.  Docketing Statement Form. The docketing statement allows the court to make decisions relating to the appeal.

IV. SERVICE

Copies of all documents filed at court by any party in the case should also be served on all the other parties. Service must occur the same day as filing or prior to filing. If a party is represented, delivery should be made to the party’s attorney. If a party is unrepresented, the party should be served directly. Proof of service must be shown. This can be done by obtaining an acknowledgement of service by the person served. Another option would be to include a statement listing the date, manner of service, and names of the people served, certified by the person who completed service. There are a few means that may be used to achieve service:

1. Handing the documents to the person

2. Leaving the documents at the person’s office

3. Mailing to the person’s last known address by United States mail

4. Using a commercial carrier service to deliver the documents to the person’s last known address with three calendar days

5. Leaving it with the clerk of courts, if the person does not have a known address

6. Sending it electronically, through a facsimile number or e-mail address listed on a prior court filing

V. BRIEFS

The purpose of a brief is to explain your case, as well as your legal arguments, to the court. It should describe the facts of the case as well as the proceedings at the trial level. It should also explain the area of law that relates to your case, and argue what the outcome should be based upon that law.

In additional to the initial appellant’s and appellee’s briefs, there are also reply briefs; these can be filed if desired by the appellant in response to the appellee’s brief. If the case involves a cross appeal, the appellee may file a reply brief in response to the appellant’s assignments of error presented by cross-appeal.

To summarize, in cases in which there is no cross-appeal, the appellant and appellee both may file an initial brief. The appellant may also file a reply brief, in response to the appellee’s brief, but it is not required. No additional briefs may be filed by either party unless the court allows them to.

Appellant’s and Appellee’s Briefs:

The appellant’s brief must include all of the following components: a table of contents, table of cases, statement of assignments of error, statement of the issues, statement of the case, statement of facts, argument section, and a conclusion. The appellee’s brief must contain all of the same requirements, except a statement of the case or statements of the facts. Though not required, the appellee may include a statement of the case and statement of the facts if the appellee disagrees with the appellant’s characterization of these sections.

Brief Components:

-The table of contents lists all of the required sections of the brief by the page number the section begins on.

-The table of cases must list all of the cases cited in the brief, in alphabetical order. In addition to cases, the table must include all statutes and any other authorities cited. Each case, statute, or other authority must include references to the pages in the brief where the authority is cited.

-The statement of the assignments of error presented for review explains why the case has been appealed, as in what errors the trial court might have made. The appellant’s statement will list the potential errors; the appellee’s brief will rebut the potential errors. Basically, the appellant’s section might say something like "The trial court erred by….", and the appellee’s section would contradict each of the listed assignments of error by saying "The trial court did not err when it…."

-The statement of the issues presented for review should explain the legal issues related to the assignments of error, and reference those errors.

-The statement of the case should concisely describe the nature of the case, the proceedings leading up to the appeal, and the disposition of the trial court.

-The statement of facts relevant to the assignments of error presented for review describes the events that led to the original case.

-The argument section should further expand upon the assignment of error, and why the party is arguing that the trial court got the decision right or wrong. These arguments should be supported by law; either statute or case law. You should also apply the law you are using to the facts of this particular case. It may be wise to begin this section with a summary, as this section is often a bit longer than others.

-The conclusion must state precisely the relief sought, including how you would like the court to rule.

Technical Requirements:

The original brief and four copies must be filed, and should also be emailed to within seven days of the filing. Your initial brief should not be longer than 30 pages, or 15 pages for an accelerated calendar appeal. Reply briefs cannot exceed 10 pages. Page limits do not include the table of contents, table of cases, and appendix.

The text must be a minimum of 12 point font, in a standard typeface such as Times New Roman or Arial. The text should be double-spaced. The brief should include citations, both for statements from the record and for legal authority. Citations to information found in the record must be reference by page of the part of the record cited. For instance, "Transcript p. 107" would be the citation written directly after a statement referencing information from page 107 of the transcript. Legal authority should be cited in accordance with the Supreme Court of Ohio Writing Manual. The writing manual provides in-depth explanations for all types of citations. Be aware that all legal authority included in your brief should have a citation, whether it comes from a statute, a case, or anything else.

VI. MOTIONS

Motions are the tool litigants use to ask the court to do something. A common example would be a motion for extension of time if you are unable to meet a deadline. To make a motion, you must state precisely what it is that you are asking the court to do; you must also include an entry order with the motion that grants the relief sought by the motion. If the court agrees to grant your motion, they will then use the entry order that you provided to them. If your motion is supported by your brief or any other documents, those should be included with the motion.

VII. MEDIATION IN CIVIL APPEALS

The court offers a mediation service to litigants who have a case pending in the court and provides a mediator at no charge. Pursuant to 6th Dist.Loc.App.R. 13, only civil and administrative appeals can be scheduled for mediation. The purpose is to allow both parties to discuss the case and potentially come to a settlement agreement, in order to save time and money. Even if a settlement cannot be reached, mediation can help simplify the issues appealed and smooth out any procedural issues related to the case.

The court will review the notice of appeal and trial court judgment to determine whether mediation would be appropriate for each case. If the court believes mediation is suitable given the circumstances, the attorneys or unrepresented parties will be contacted with the date, time, and location of the mediation. You may call the court to request mediation for you case. You may also call to request that mediation be cancelled if one has been scheduled and you do not want to mediate the case.

Mediations should take place early in the appeals process, to allow settlement talks before resources have been used to transmit the record and file briefs. Note, however, that engaging in a mediation proceeding DOES NOT automatically give you more time to file the transcript of proceedings or brief; the same deadlines given above still apply. However, you can get an extension for those deadlines. To do so, you must call the mediator at court and request that the court extend the time to transmit or file until after the mediation. The mediator may then recommend the extension, and you will be informed whether the deadline has been extended.

These are specific rules that apply to mediation proceedings relating to privilege and confidentiality. The purpose of these rules is to allow both sides to discuss the case in order to reach a settlement without fear that the information shared could be used against them later. With a few exceptions, new information shared in a mediation proceeding is confidential and cannot be disclosed unless both parties agree that it may be. Parties that do not comply with this provision are subject to sanctions by the court.

VIII. ORAL ARGUMENTS

Oral arguments can be a useful tool to allow the parties to further explain their positions to the judges, as well as to rebut the opposing side’s arguments. In order to have an oral argument scheduled, you must request one; to do so, simply write "ORAL ARGUMENT REQUESTED" on the cover page of your initial brief. Any party who has filed a brief in the case will be allowed an oral argument. That means, if the appellant requests an oral argument, but the appellee does not, both still have the opportunity to present an oral argument to the judges. The court will notify the parties in writing of the date and time of their oral argument.

Each side is allowed 15 minutes for their oral argument. Even if there are multiple appellants or appellees, the time limit is the same; in which case, all parties on the same side must share the allotted 15 minutes. Typically, the judges will have already read the briefs and will be familiar with the case already. You should not simply read your brief to the judges during oral argument. You should decide which parts of your argument are the strongest, and explain those in greater detail to the judge; oral argument is the time to focus on the best parts of your argument, and to discredit your opponent’s arguments.

If the case is settled prior to oral arguments, or for some other reason you no longer wish to have the oral argument you requested, you must inform the court by filing a notice of dismissal.

IX. JUDGMENT

When an appeal has been made, the appellate court has three options; it may affirm, modify, or reverse the trial court’s judgment. By affirming a decision, the court decides that the trial court was not wrong, and their decision will stand. To modify a decision means that some part of the decision may not have been proper, and will be changed accordingly. A reversal means that the appellate court agreed with the assignments of error, or thought that the trial decision was incorrect on some other grounds. If a decision is reversed, the final order of the trial court will not stand. For a reversal, there are two routes the appellate court may take; it may simply enter the new judgment, or it may remand the case back to trial court. When the case is remanded, the trial court is told what they did wrong the first time; they must make the changes in accordance with the instructions from the appellate court.

When a decision has been made by the court, the opinion will be available on the Lucas County website.  6th District Court of Appeals Decisions.

X. COSTS

When an appeal is filed, the appellant must pay $150 to the clerk of the trial court as security for payment of costs. If this deposit is made in the form of a check, it should be made out to the court of appeals clerk. The same requirement also applies to cross-appellants. The $150 deposit will not be required if you instead produce either a sworn affidavit of inability to pay the deposit, or evidence from the trial court determining that you are indigent for purposes of the appeal. The clerk of the trial court will forward the deposit, affidavit, or evidence to the appellate court.

In addition to the initial deposit, there are other fees that the clerk of the trial court charges for their services. There is a complete list of these fees in R.C. 2303.20. However, you should pay especially close attention to the fee for compiling a complete record. The clerk charges $1 per page of the record they compile. You should keep this amount in mind while budgeting for your appeal, because records are often quite long; the fee for compiling the record could cost hundreds of dollars if you require a large volume of trial records.