If you disagree with a court’s decision, you may “appeal” the decision to try to reverse or amend it. Appeals can take place in many “appellate courts,” which are courts charged with the power to affirm or reverse the decision of the court below. Minnesota has two appellate courts that handle adoption, family law, and estate planning matters: the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the federal court system, there are 13 courts of appeal, and the United States Supreme Court.
To start an appeal, you first file a “notice of appeal” and a “statement of the case.” After that, you file an opening “appellant’s brief,” which sets forth the facts and law and tries to demonstrate why the lower court made a mistake. Opposing parties have the chance to respond to the appellant’s brief and then the persons who filed the appeal have the right to file a “reply.” After everyone submits their briefs, the court schedules the case for an oral argument.
An appeal in the Minnesota Court of Appeals can take approximately six months. The Minnesota Supreme Court can take longer. The Minnesota Supreme Court only takes a limited number of cases that it believes are important statewide.
Fiddler Osband Flynn has likely handled more appeals than any other existing family or adoption law firm in Minnesota, having appeared in more than 100 appeals, including at the United States Supreme Court.
Mark Fiddler was co-counsel in Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl, a landmark case in adoption involving the Indian Child Welfare Act. Mark has also appeared in the appellate courts of California, Washington, Virginia, Florida, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Rachel Osband and Delmar Flynn have also argued cases in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
If you win a tough case, the other side may file an appeal. We know how to protect our clients in an appeal. Sometimes, when we think a serious legal mistake has been made, Fiddler Osband Flynn advises clients to file an appeal. An appeal is not a way to get another “bite at the apple,” but it is an important part of our practice. Our clients know we listen, advise them during the appeals process, and advocate for them.
If you are thinking about retaining our firm, you should know that these appeals are what keeps Fiddler Osband Flynn on top of the latest developments in the law, which makes us ready for any case that comes our way.