Brief Overview Of The Appeals Process

Your appeal begins when you file a notice of appeal or a petition for review from a final decision of a district court or agency.  It will be assigned a court of appeals docket number by the Court of Appeals Clerk's Office.  Any correspondence from you should indicate this number.  The parties will be asked by the Clerk to complete forms necessary for the appeal to proceed.  In addition, you will be notified of potential problems with the appeal, i.e., non-payment of filing fees and jurisdictional defects.

At the appropriate time, the Clerk will issue a briefing schedule. Your brief is the primary focus of the appeal, and is discussed in further detail below.  Once all briefs have been filed, they will be sent to a panel of judges for a decision on the merits of the appeal.  The majority of cases are decided on briefs only.  No new evidence or testimony can be presented in this Court.  This Court is permitted only to examine the district court/agency records for possible constitutional, legal, or factual error.  Oral argument may be requested by the parties, but is granted rarely. Your appeal may be decided with or without a written opinion.  Usually, motions filed before briefs are filed are referred to a panel of judges for decision before briefs are submitted to the court.

Once a final judgment is entered by this Court, a dissatisfied litigant may file a petition for rehearing in this court.  In addition, the litigant may file a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Note: Litigants should keep a copy of all documents submitted to the Court.  If a time stamped copy of a document is desired as proof of receipt by the Court, an extra copy of the document and a self-addressed, stamped envelope must be included with the submission.