In Indiana, there is a tiered court system, which means that cases will start out on the bottom rung, and the next higher court has more authority than the last. However, this also means that your case has to start at the right court, exhaust all resources there, before it is allowed to move on to the next if you receive an adverse result.
Most cases begin in the circuit or superior court (the trial court), the county your are in and the type of case you have will determine which, but both are generally in the same county courthouse building. Some cases involving Administrative rules and agencies may begin with an Administrative proceeding, and would then appeal or proceed on to the circuit or superior court if an appeal is necessary. After the trial court case is completed and you have a final order, litigants typically have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals. Once the Court of Appeals case is completed and an opinion issues, the next tier in the courts is the Indiana Supreme Court. Most cases have to work through each of the courts before reaching the highest court in Indiana.
However, there are some exceptions to the rule. The Indiana Supreme Court has mandatory and exclusive jurisdiction over the following types of cases1.
- Criminal Appeals in which a sentence of death or life imprisonment without parole is imposed and Criminal Appeals in post conviction relief cases in which the sentence was death.
- Appeals of Final Judgments declaring a state or federal statute unconstitutional in whole or in part.
- Appeals involving a waiver of parental consent to abortion
- Appeals involving mandate of funds under Trial Rule 60.5(B) and Rule 61.2
- Interlocutory (no final order yet) appeals of cases in which the State seeks the death penalty.
This means that if your case falls into one of these categories, you may seek an appeal directly with the Indiana Supreme Court, without first having to seek an appeal from the Indiana Court of Appeals (which would be the normal procedure).
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions are concerns about your specific case, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.