In this post, I discuss how to file a civil appeal in the State of Arkansas.
If you have found yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit, you may be wondering how to file a civil appeal in Arkansas. The rules for filing an appeal in Arkansas are very precise and must be followed very carefully to ensure that the merits of your claim are properly considered.
In this post, I will discuss how to file a civil appeal—including the filing and service requirements—in Arkansas. (Criminal cases are governed by separate rules.) This post picks up after a notice of appeal—which I have discussed elsewhere—has been filed.
(It is important to point out that this post discusses appeals to the Arkansas Supreme Court or the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Appeals from district court to circuit court are governed by a separate set of rules and procedures.)
How to File a Civil Appeal
The appellate process begins with the filing of a notice of appeal—the deadlines for which I have also discussed elsewhere—and the lodging of the record, which must be filed within ninety days of the filing of the notice of appeal.
Once the ball is rolling, the appellant—the person appealing the lower court’s decision—must then file a brief to address the actual matters at issue for the appeal. The appellant brief provides the opportunity for the appellant to argue why the lower court’s decision should be overturned.
The Appellant Brief
The appellant must file the appellant brief within forty days of lodging the record. Eighteen copies of the appellant brief must be filed with the Clerk of the Court along with evidence that the brief was served upon opposing counsel and the circuit court whose decision is the subject of the appeal.
The argument portion of the brief is limited to thirty double-spaced pages (including the conclusion). Typeface may not be less than 14 points.
The Appellee Brief
The appellee—the appellant’s opposing party—must file eighteen copies of its brief within thirty days of the filing of the appellant brief. The appellee must also furnish evidence that its brief was served upon opposing counsel and the circuit court whose decision is the subject of the appeal.
Like the appellant brief, the appellee brief is limited to thirty pages, except that where the appellee is also a cross-appellant—meaning that the appellee is also appealing a decision of the circuit court—the two separate arguments may be contained in one brief with each argument limited to thirty pages.
The appellant may file a reply brief within thirty days of the filing of the appellee brief. The reply brief, like the appellant brief, must include evidence of service on opposing counsel and the applicable circuit court. The length of the reply brief is limited to fifteen pages.
How to File a Civil Appeal: Submission
After submission, the process could move quickly. The appeal will be subject to call on the next Thursday—if the appeal is to be heard by the Supreme Court—or Wednesday—if the appeal is to be heard by the Court of Appeals—after the expiration of the time allowed for filing the final reply brief.
Continuances and Extensions of Time
The Clerk of the Court or his or her deputy may extend the due date of any brief by seven days upon a simple oral request. The party making the request must then follow up by sending a letter to the Clerk with a copy to opposing counsel confirming the extension. Any further extensions may only be granted by the Clerk as provided elsewhere in the rules or by the court upon a written motion showing a good cause for the further delay.
While the court may in its discretion grant extensions, you should not rely on the granting of such extensions. As Rule 4-4 of the Rules of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of the State of Arkansas reads, “Counsel who delay the filing of such a motion [for extension] until it is too late for the brief to be filed if the motion is denied, do so at their own risk.”
How to File a Civil Appeal In Sum
Much of understanding how to file an appeal in Arkansas consists in understanding the strict procedural rules governing the appellate process. Matters as seemingly mundane as font size and page limitations can be very important, and so the applicable rules must be examined carefully throughout the process.