When Can I Appeal a Case?

I have discussed appeals before, but some of you may wonder, “when can I appeal a case?” This post attempts to answer that question with as little legalese as possible. A case is appealable at two times: (1) at the final order and disposition of the case, or (2) if it is an order included in the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure (P.R.A.P.) Rule 311. Each of these will be discussed in turn.

What is a “final order”?

P.R.A.P. Rule 341 defines a “final order” for us. When the case is over an order is given by the judge. The order is the final order and disposition when it gives a ruling regarding all claims and all parties, or it is expressly defined as a final order. In other words, that order disposes all of the things the court was supposed to address and so it is appealable.

An order may also be a final order if, when there are multiple claims and only one claim has a verdict, and it has appealable issues, and getting a final verdict on that issue will help determine the other claims,then the court will allow the appeal. This strategy would come into play only when there are multiple claims, and is a little more complicated than the other 2 final dispositions.

Discuss with your attorney what orders are final, although it is usually straightforward. If everything appears to be addressed in the order, it is final. If there are claims or parties left in limbo, it is not final. If it is not final, you might still be able to appeal if the appeal will deal with those claims or parties in limbo as well.

What else is appealable?

The other appealable issues arise when someone’s rights are going to be irreversibly affected by the order, but it is definitely not a final order. When an order is appealed but is not a final order, it is called interlocutory.

–          An order refusing to vacate, open, or strike a judgment is immediately appealable because it is an order which affects a judgment of a person.

–          An order to attach, vacating an attachment, or refusing to attach is appealable. An attachment is a lien on property, meaning that if somebody owed you money, you could attach his property and sell it to get the money. Selling property is something that causes irreversible damage.

–          An order to change criminal venue is appealable. This means that if your trial is ordered moved you have the right to appeal that decision because where your trial takes place determines the jury that will be called and that could cause irreversible harm.

–          An order granting, denying or altering an injunction is appealable. An injunction tells a person they may not do something. Because Americans have a liberty interest in being free to do various things, the order can cause irreparable harm.

–          An order determining the validity of a will or trust is appealable so that no distributions will be made from the estate or trust until all issues have been worked out.

It’s a long list, and it is incomplete. Other cases and rules alter this list slightly, but these are the more common instances of appealable issues.

If you think you have an appealable order, and have a reason to appeal it, you should talk to your attorney. Your attorney should be able to inform you of whether your hunch is right and you have an appealable order.

What if I appeal the case, and it turns out it wasn’t appealable yet?

You must meet all procedural requirements of docketing the case and giving the court the trial record. If, after doing that, the court finds that the issue is not ripe for appeal, the Court will then “quash” the appeal. What happens when a court “quashes” an appeal? The judge gets really, REALLY mad and yells at you!

No, no, just kidding.

When a court refuses to hear an appeal, it quashes it. This simply means the court hands the issue back to the trial court. The appeals court will remand the issue so that the trial court can finish its job, whether that be to go to trial, to finalize an order, or some procedural step that was missed such as filing a document. Your case is not prejudiced by being remanded to the trial court, it is just the appeals court explaining that it’s not your turn to be heard.

After the trial court finishes its job, you will be permitted to appeal again.

Top Six Reasons to Consult an Attorney

I started out with just five, but folks, the reasons just keep coming, and number six is truly what people are looking for from those they do business with.

  1. Avoid your exposure to risk- You want to move forward, you want to prosper, and you want to succeed. If fortune does “favor the bold,” then what you should do is be bold. However, when you embark on a new venture, you face risks. Consider these risks before you move forward with any venture, whether business or personal, and use an attorney’s expertise to help you overcome these risks.
  2. Solutions to your problems- I have worked with many diverse clients while working in the law, and prior to that, while working in the business world. The experiences I have had are a valuable asset to you. My work with others can only serve to benefit you: perspective from others is a good way to help solve problems.
  3. Study of the law and facts- when you consult with me, you will benefit from a thorough review of the facts and law in your issue. After an in-depth interview with you, to gather the facts of your specific situation, and detailed research into any and all cases and laws that might affect your next move. Making an appointment with this office will secure a comprehensive study of the law and facts to help you solve your problems.
  4. Communication on your behalf- Let’s face it, sometimes you have to be the bad guy. When you need to take an aggressive posture in a dispute or a negotiation, that is a position in which your attorney, in their capacity as zealously representing you, can help you in that situation. Alternatively, when you find you may need to back down on an issue, having a proxy, such as an attorney, can help you to save face.
  5. Timely performance- When you pay for an attorney, you pay for someone who has the time and resources to make sure an issue gets done when it needs to be done. A good attorney makes your urgent and important matter, their urgent and important matter.

AND

6.   Ongoing support- When you retain an attorney, the attorney should be available, the attorney should be accessible, and the attorney should provide sound advice- these three things comprise support. With me as your attorney, this support goes beyond the first issue you discuss with me. The support continues, throughout aspects of your life and other future issues you may run into. Whether legal or not, having a person you can trust, and who is unquestioningly on your side, is crucial to your wellbeing.