Thursday, May 12, 2016

Q & A: I want to appeal a decision the court made in my case. But I am short on funds. Can I wait a while to appeal?

Q : I want to appeal a decision the court made in my case. My attorney says it's an issue that's subject to appeal. But I am short on funds to pay my attorney. Can I wait a while to appeal? 

A: Probably not.

You do not state in your question in what area of law your case was. Your question does center on the area of Procedure (whether Criminal Procedure or Civil Procedure). Evidence law may also come into play here.

In general, an option to appeal a decision is limited - in more than one way. First, only certain issues will be considered relevant to an appeal. This is sometimes a question of law (what prior cases have held), and other times a question of fact (whether the judge left out certain evidence, denied a motion, etc.) If it's an evidence question, a transcript of the earlier hearing may need to be reviewed, to see what was done in court, and on the record.

Second, and more importantly in your case, an appeal is limited in time.
Court rules limit when an appeal can be done. It is typically 21 days (under MCR 2.119 (F), and MCR 7.205 (A)) after the entry of an order in a case. This means that once the order is signed (entered) by the judge, your "clock" begins ticking.

I understand that attorney fees are expensive. If you wait too long, your appeal "window" will possibly close forever. This means that you will have to live with the decision that was made in your case.

However, it may be possible to wait a little while - up to six months  possibly, if you can show the court (through an affidavit, best presented through your attorney's representation) that there was a very valid reason why the appeal was not filed within the original 21 day window. This is what is known as a "delayed application for leave" to appeal.

Please give your attorney as much time as possible to begin that appeal. 

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