If a party to a case believes a court’s judgment was made in error, an appeal may be filed to have the issue reviewed by another court. It is strongly encouraged for parties to obtain a lawyer to represent them in an appeal. There are complex rules and strict deadlines to observe in an appeal process, which, if not followed, can result in a losing appeal. However, for pro-se parties (self-representing parties), the information below will be beneficial to help parties understand how to appeal a case in the state of Georgia.
As a brief overview, the Court of Appeals of Georgia consists of fifteen judges, who are divided between five sections. If the case is not exclusive to the Supreme Court of Georgia, then these appellate judges may hear the appeal from the lower, trial court. Then, a panel of three judges will render a judgment. The Court of Appeals will decide if the trial court made a mistake in applying the law. In this case, the judgment calls for a reversal of the verdict, vacate the verdict, or remand the issue back to the trial court.
There are three methods of filing an appeal in Georgia: Direct Appeal, Discretionary Application to Appeal, or Interlocutory Application to Appeal. The appealing party must first determine the type of appeal to file and in which court to file the appeal, the Court of Appeals of Georgia or the Supreme Court of Georgia. The list of cases the Court of Appeals can hear is set out in O.C.G.A § 5-6-34(a). For a Direct Appeal, the party must first file the notice of appeal with the clerk of the trial court that rendered the order being appealed. This notice of appeal must be filed within thirty days of the date when the trial court entered its order. The types of cases that require a discretionary or interlocutory application to begin the appeal process are set out within O.C.G.A. § 5-6-35(a). For a discretionary application, the appeal must be filed directly with the Court of Appeals of Georgia, not the clerk of the trial court. This too must be filed within thirty days, and must include the specific portions of the trial court’s record that the appealing party wants reviewed by the Court of Appeals. Depending on the type of case, there are limits to amount of pages that can be submitted for review. Lastly, an interlocutory application is appropriate when the appeal is in regards to an order that has been rendered by the trial court while the trial is pending. The trial court has full discretion to grant or reject a review of its order.
When filing documents in the appeal process, pro-se parties must use the paper format, not electronic filing. The documents should include the filing party’s signature and a proper certificate of service, which indicates a copy has been provided to the opposing party. The cost of filing an appeal depends on the type of case; criminal is approximately $80 and civil is approximately $300. Finally, once the clerk of the trial court sends all necessary documents to the Court of Appeals, a “docketing notice” will be sent to the parties. This is important because it informs the parties of other deadlines and important court proceedings.
For more information, the Georgia statutes on appellate procedures and rules of the Court of Appeals of Georgia should be followed. Again, it is strongly encouraged to have the assistance of an attorney to make this process easier. At Bixon Law, we work to assist our clients in every stage of their case. Give us a call at (404) 551-5684 to see how we can best serve your needs.