In Arkansas, filing a notice of appeal begins the appeal process. If you have received an unfavorable judgment or order from the circuit court and would like to appeal, you should file your notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court that entered the judgment or order that is the subject of your appeal.
In this post, I will discuss the notice of appeal and various issues associated with initiating an appeal. The appellate process can be complex and relies heavily on a large body of rules that must be followed carefully. It is therefore advisable to consult with an attorney prior to filing your appeal.
Joint or Consolidated Appeals
The appellate process can be time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, it is often in the best interest of the courts and the litigants to consolidate multiple appeals into one proceeding.
Where two or more parties with similar claims appeal a judgment, they may file a joint notice of appeal or they may join their appeals after filing separate notices of appeal. When this happens, the parties proceed in the appeal as a single appellant.
In addition, another interested party not filing the appeal—such as the appellee—may request that the appeals be consolidated. Finally, because this promotes efficiency in the appellate process, the Supreme Court may also, on its own prerogative, consolidate appeals where similar matters are at issue.
Cross appeals are filed in the same way as appeals. A cross appeal occurs when a party not originally filing an appeal requests its own review of a lower court judgment or order, and they are somewhat analogous to counterclaims at the trial court level.
This sometimes occurs when the prevailing party decides to appeal a decision of the lower court after the losing party files an appeal in the hopes of perhaps securing an even better outcome. Sometimes, however, the cross appeal label is simply arbitrarily assigned, being completely determined by the fact that the party filing the appeal did not file first.
Drafting a Notice of Appeal
The notice of appeal must:
- Specify the party or parties making the appeal.
- State the judgment or order being appealed.
- Designate the contents of the record on appeal.
- State that the party making the appeal—known as the appellant—has ordered the transcript of the lower court proceedings and has paid any fees required to secure the transcript as required by Arkansas law. Arkansas Code Annotated § 16-13-510 states that the court record “shall be transcribed, certified by the [court] reporter as true and correct, and filed with the clerk of the court” upon the request of a party of the action. This duty of the reporter, however, “may be conditioned upon the payment…of up to fifty percent (50%) of the estimated cost of the transcript.” These fees can be significant.
- State whether the appeal is to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. If it is to the Supreme Court, the notice of appeal must state the rule that gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction.
- State that the appealing party abandons any pending but unresolved claim. This helps resolve the issue of finality that may occur if after review, it becomes apparent that there remains an outstanding non-adjudicated issue, thus making the matter non-appealable. By requiring an abandonment of non-adjudicated claims as part of the appeal, significant time and expense are saved. (This is generally not required for appeals of interlocutory orders or partial judgments certified as final pursuant to Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure 54(b).)
Service of Notice
A copy of the notice of appeal—or cross-appeal, if applicable—must be served upon the counsel for all other parties.