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Three Key Points to Writing/Drafting Appellate Issues in Indiana

Almost every final decision of an Indiana trial court can be appealed to the Indiana Court of appeals by perfecting the appeal and “briefing” the matter. Appellate attorneys often spend considerable time drafting or “framing” the issues so they bring attention to the question of law and fact at hand. The Court of Appeals central role is not to re-weigh (or second guess a trial court’s decision) on how it viewed facts. Instead, it looks at how the trial court applied the facts to the law. Thus, a good appellate issue should be combination of both.

First, an appellate issue should include how the Court of Appeals reviews the issue, such as an abuse of discretion (for questions of fact) or de novo (no deference) if the trial court applied within the issue. An example of how this might be drafted” “Whether the trial court misapplied the law for de novo review. . . “

Second, the appeal should include facts relevant to the issue, not the entire appeal. The key facts relate to the case itself, are included in other segments of the brief. Building on the prior partial example issue, this might go on to include: “Whether the trial court misapplied the law for de novo review by this court where Father was awarded a fifty percent (50%) abatement of child support during summer parenting . . . .”

Third, and finally, the appellate issue (there may be more than one), should also include the law. Taking this example to conclusion: “Whether the trial court misapplied the law for de novo review by this court where Father was awarded a fifty percent (50%) abatement of child support during summer parenting time under this order because the abatement has been included in overnight parenting time credit?”

The take-away from this blog is that quality drafting means appellate issues must convey the legal error to the Court of Appeals in a compact form so the matter gets due consideration. This is required by and the purposes of the Rules of Appellate Practice. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle appeals in the Indiana Court of Appeals, Supreme Court, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and United States Supreme Court.


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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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