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Missing an Appellate Deadline in A Civil Case

What You Need to Know About Missing an Appellate Deadline in A Civil Case: Is It Jurisdictional or Forfeiture of the Appeal?

Civil appeals are guided by very rigid appellate rules. Generally, missing an appellate deadline precludes a civil appeal. The only remedy is a malpractice action against counsel who failed to advise his or her of the appellate deadline or missed this deadline.

This is unlike criminal appeals, where belated appeals may be allowed due to the potential loss of life and liberty by incarceration. This blog explores a very narrow remedy that the Indiana Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have embraced where the facts of a civil are such that the case should be decided on the merits.1

Most attorneys confuse the timeliness and appeal with the jurisdiction of the Indiana Court of Appeals or Indiana Supreme Court to hear or decide the matter.  This is the topical coverage of this blog post. In a prior blog, we addressed the notion that the missing of an appellate deadline for the Indiana Court of Appeals forfeits the appeal; however, this is not the same as the Court not having jurisdiction to accept and decide the untimely civil case in the right circumstances.

In a recent Indiana Supreme Court case, it determined that an appeal that was prematurely filed could be decided on the merits. Again, it referenced the appellate rules that higher courts have jurisdiction, and the failure to adhere to an appellate deadline results in forfeiture of the appeal–not the loss or lack of jurisdiction for the Indiana Court of Appeals or Supreme Court to accept and decide the case.

What this means to you, and your counsel is an untimely appeal may be forfeited, but does not deprive the Indiana Court of Appeals or Indiana Supreme Court of deciding the case on the merits. This shows the flexibility of the Indiana Appellate Court and their desire and goal to afford justice.

In any appeal, the rules are complex and technical because an appeal is an extraordinary remedy by itself relative to the number of trials. However, and appeal it is still a matter of right. Thus, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates, who handle a variety of appeals to the Indiana Court of Appeals (and Indiana Supreme Court, Seventh Circuit, United States Supreme Court), are aware of the legal precepts to bring a compelling civil case, even where the appeal has been forfeited.

Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle appeals from all Indiana final orders. We hope you find this information on forfeiture of an appeal, versus lack of jurisdiction, helpful in your understanding of appeals the responsiveness of the Indiana appellate courts. This blog post is written for informational purposes and is not a solicitation for specific legal advice. It is advertising material.

  1. In re:  The matter of D.J., 02S03-1610-JC-548 (Ind.2017)

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