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Appellate Law FAQs

If I am unhappy with a judge’s decision, do I have a right to appeal?

Yes. In most cases, you have the right to file an appeal following an adverse result at the end of your case. For example, you may appeal a judge or jury’s finding in favor of the other party following a trial. You may also appeal a judge’s decision to dismiss your case or to grant summary judgment in favor of the other party. Additionally, you have the right to file an appeal in a divorce case if you disagree with the judge’s ruling on custody, maintenance, or the division of property. Finally, you have the right to file an appeal in traffic or criminal cases in which you were found guilty. In most cases, the appeal will be heard in the Illinois Appellate Court. In an appeal, you request the appellate court to determine whether the trial court’s decision was supported by the evidence or whether the trial court made errors during the proceedings. If the appellate court finds that the trial court committed an error, it may enter judgment on your behalf or require that the case be tried again. Generally, you may not appeal cases in which you have voluntarily entered into a settlement agreement to resolve the litigation without a trial.

How much time after the trial court enters its judgment do I have to file an appeal?

Generally, you must file a notice of appeal in the trial court within 30 days of an adverse ruling. In certain types of cases, you must also file a post-trial motion or motion to reconsider in the trial court before you may file a notice of appeal. The procedural and jurisdictional rules governing appeals are numerous and complex. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the forfeiture of your right to appeal. If you are considering filing an appeal, we recommend that you promptly contact one of our appellate attorneys. At Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, our attorneys have a combined total of over 18 years of appellate experience. Several of our appellate attorneys have served as law clerks to justices on the Illinois Appellate Court. Their knowledge and experience can provide you unique insight into the appellate process and offer you the best chance of success on appeal.

How do I proceed in the appellate court after I have filed a notice of appeal?

After filing a notice of appeal, the record of the proceedings before the trial court must be prepared and submitted to the appellate court. The parties next file written briefs in the appellate court explaining why they believe the trial court erred and providing legal authorities in support of their position. In certain cases, the appellate court will also request the parties to appear before them for oral argument on the points raised in the briefs. After reviewing the case, a three-judge panel of appellate justices will issue a written decision, either affirming or reversing the ruling of the trial court. In certain cases, the appellate court will order that the case be retried due to procedural deficiencies. The rules governing the preparation of the report of the proceedings and the filing of briefs are complex and complicated. Lacking specialized legal training, filing an appeal may be a difficult and time-consuming process. If you are considering filing an appeal, we recommend that you contact one of our appellate attorneys. Our attorneys have a proven track record of success and have represented clients in both the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts.