If you believe that a trial court made an error of fact or law in deciding your case, you can appeal. Part of the process involves submitting an appellate brief. The brief is a document that informs the court of what you believe the legal and factual error to be. It provides your explanation as to why the lower court's decision should be overturned. The brief is written and follows a very structured format.Purpose of Briefs
A brief identifies the issues, explains why the trial court did or did not commit reversible error, and provides legal and factual support for the assertions. There are two levels of state court appeal in Colorado. The first is an appeal by right to the Colorado Court of Appeals. If you do not prevail there, then you can petition the Colorado Supreme Court to hear your case, however the Supreme Court does not hear all cases and has the authority to decide what cases it will hear. Court of Appeals judges discuss cases during "settings". Each judge reads the briefs before the setting. One judge writes and circulates a draft opinion before the setting. Then the Court hears the oral argument, if there is one.
Oral argument is not required but can be requested by either party to the action. If an oral argument is held, the argument usually occurs on the same day as the setting and the judges discuss the case after the argument. It is generally best to raise no more than three issues on appeal, so prioritization may be necessary. There is a limit to the length of the brief.Organization
Briefs follow a standard format and contain the following sections:
- Certificate of Compliance
- Table of Contents
- Table of Authorities
- Statement of the Issues
- Statement of the Case
- Summary of the Argument
- Certificate of Service
The statement of the case is a statement identifying the nature of the case, the relevant facts, the procedural history, and the ruling, judgment, or order presented for review, with references to the record. The record is comprised of the pleadings and motions from the trial court hearing and a copy of the proceeding transcript. It is necessary to the have a copy of the trial transcript when writing the brief, and reference to reference specific sections. The appellant must order a copy of the transcript and there is a fee. The fee varies according to the number of pages.Extension of Time
Deadlines are critical. The Court of Appeals can dismiss an appeal for failure to file an Opening Brief on time. Writing a good brief takes a substantial amount of research, analysis and writing and can consume a large amount of time. Sometimes extensions for good cause are available. To request an extension of time, file a motion that includes an explanation stating why there is good cause for the extension. The motion must be filed before the brief is due. Parties to the action can not agree to extend a brief deadline; the extension must be granted by the Court. Each party must have all documents they file served on the other party so the other party has notice of the arguments and/or defenses.Janko Family Law - Is it Time For a Change?
Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone. The court system is more complex than it should be. With offices in Colorado Springs and Denver, we can guide you through the experience by handling pleading and motion preparation and filing, negotiation, mediation, and court proceedings from start to finish. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on trying to figure out how the overly complex court system works. Remember that change often creates new opportunity and a better future. Janko Family Law can help ensure that your best interests and the best interests of your family are protected. Contact us at 719-394-9804 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.