The Massachusetts Appeals Court requires some pleadings to be filed electronically, rather than through hard copy. Although the Standing Order concerning electronic filings has been effective for nearly three years, it is still a confusing process that is ripe for errors.
The Supreme Court of the United States issued a recent decision answering the question of whether an appeal period begins after a court determines the merits of the case or after it awards attorney's fees and costs.
I recently attended a continuing legal education seminar where the Clerk of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Joseph Stanton, provided useful information concerning post-oral argument letters, often described as "16L Letters."
Why should you hire an appellate attorney? You may be happy with your trial counsel, having already worked and developed a good relationship with your trial counsel for months or perhaps years. Plus, your trial counsel already knows the facts of your case. There are, however, specific advantages to hiring appellate counsel.
A party must act quickly to appeal an adverse judgment. Rule 3(a) of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure requires that a Notice of Appeal be filed within 30 days with the clerk of the lower court. This is the most important deadline of the appellate process; an untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal is subject to dismissal.
Often attorneys and clients think of the appeals process as an abyss - a long, uncertain process where they wait many months (or years) for a final resolution of their legal case. Although a typical trip to the Massachusetts Appeals Court is by no means quick, the process is ordinarily not too complicated.