The Court Entered a Judgment You Disagree With – What Now?

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After a judgment, or other final order, is entered by a district court, a party may file an appeal to seek reversal of that decision.  Whether in a general civil matter, a collections case, personal injury, or family law, you may have options to appeal a civil judgment in North Dakota.  Other states have intermediate levels of appeals court, such as a court of appeals, but in North Dakota the North Dakota Supreme Court considers appeals.  The party appealing a decision is referred to as the appellant, and the other party in a matter is called the appellee. 

The first thing you should do is contact an attorney to discuss your options. There are many scenarios where the options are limited and the deadlines are short, requiring almost immediate action. Appeals can often involve complex filing requirements and rules.  Additionally, appeals courts generally defer to the factual findings of the court or a jury, which often make success on appeal difficult.  This provides an additional reason to contact an attorney to review the court’s decision to help determine your chance of success on appeal.

Second, consider the deadlines and schedules.  In North Dakota, there are several time frames to consider depending on the type of appeal.  For example, in a termination of parental rights case, the notice of appeal and appellant’s brief must be filed within 30 days after the juvenile court’s decision.  Mental health appeals are on a similarly expedited schedule.  This schedule requires quick decisions, as it takes time to obtain transcripts, review documents, and draft a brief.  Alternatively, in a civil matter (like divorce or collections cases), a party has 60 days after notice of entry of the judgment to file a notice of appeal in North Dakota.  In other general civil matters, the appellant’s brief is due 40 days after transcripts are filed or filing of the notice of appeal.  There is then an additional timeline for the filing of the appellee’s brief, the appellant’s reply brief, and setting the matter for oral argument if it is requested. After oral argument (if oral argument is requested and takes place), it is then a matter of waiting for the North Dakota Supreme Court to issue its decision. The appeals process can be very lengthy and an appealing party may not receive a final decision for six months or longer.  However, depending on the type of case and filing dates, an appeal may be decided sooner.  Depending on your goals, it is important to consider the time and expense of an appeal. 

The above provides a brief overview of the appeals process for certain types of cases in North Dakota.  If you need assistance with an appeal, contact an attorney at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys in Fargo, North Dakota to discuss or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.