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My Appeal Brief is “Defective?”: Common Defects and What It May Mean to Your Case

Indiana’s appellate court’s are adapting with the times and requirements for open access to courts as guaranteed by the Indiana Constitution. Appeals to the Indiana Court of Appeals, Indiana’s primary intermediate court are made uniform to expedite the appellate process and ensure uniformity in review on-line and in paper format by the Clerk issuing a “Notice of Defect” for briefs that other filings that do not closely follow the Appellate rules.

In this blog post, common defects are discussed and what they mean in terms of the appeal and corrective action. As a threshold matter, the Indiana Court of Appeals exists to serve litigants who desire a higher level of review by a three judge panel. Thus, defects (failure to follow the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure) are serious, but usually able to be corrected. Failure to correct a Notice of Defect may subject the appeal to dismissal.

Three common defects are: failure to provide a sufficient number of copies; demonstrate the other side was served with the filing, or form of the briefing. These defects may be corrected. With regard to sufficient copies, there are 15 judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals plus a number of supporting arms of the Court. Thus, a specific number of copies must be provided in order to provide to the requisite court or staff. Failure to do so will result in a defect, which means the document is not filed until a sufficient number of copies are provided.

Another common, but perhaps more serious issue, arises when a document or brief lacks a certificate of service. This is to ensure the opposing parties have a copy of the filing for response or timely response. This is a due process issue whereby parties and their counsel are entitled to know the status of a case and act in accordance with the law. Thus, the document may have to be re-served or evidence provided to all parties of the suit to be notified of the filing.

Finally, the Indiana Court of Appeals handles thousands of appeals and motions and other filings each year. All have page limits, and other formatting requirements. Briefs have color-coded covers to ensure easy identification. Failure to follow these rules impedes the Court and may slow the appellate process. Thus, a Notice of Defect may be issued for a variety of form deficiencies under the Appellate rules.

The main points to glean from this blog is that Notice of Defects ensure orderly, timely and uniform appeals to aid the Court of Appeals in serving those who come before Indiana trial courts. Most can be corrected, but failure to do so may cause dismissal. Notices of Appeals thus put litigants on the same level as all other appeals. Appeals are rule driven and given a substantial amount of attention so they must be right.

We hope you find this blog post useful if you are in the appellate process, considering an appeal, or want to be a more educated citizen. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who practice throughout the State and handle appeals of all appealable orders of Indiana trial courts. This blog is not intended to solicit specific legal consumers or provide legal advice. It is advertising material.


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Dixon & Moseley, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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