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What You Need to Know About Appeals

Q.        What is an “appeal”?

Generally speaking, the term “appeal” means a request for a higher court to review a lower court’s decision.  Having said that, the term “appeal” may also refer to a request to review the decision of an administrative agency.

Q.        What kinds of appeals are there?

Illinois law recognizes many different types of appeal.  The most familiar type occurs at the end of a case, where the losing party asks an appellate court to review an adverse decision of a trial court.  However, Illinois also recognizes “interlocutory appeals,” “administrative appeals,” “certified questions,” and discretionary appeals to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Q.        How do I appeal a final judgment to the Illinois Appellate Court?

Once a trial court enters a “final judgment,” a party wishing to appeal has 30 days to file a “notice of appeal” with the clerk of the trial court.  In certain situations, the 30-day deadline can be extended by the filing of a motion.

Q.        What is a “final judgment”?

A “final judgment” leaves nothing further for the trial court to do, other than to enforce the judgment.

Q.        What is an “interlocutory appeal”?

An “interlocutory appeal” asks an appellate court to review a trial court decision before the case has ended in the trial court.  Interlocutory appeals are strongly disfavored, although Illinois law does permit them in certain limited circumstances.

Q.        What is a “certified question”?

From time to time, lawsuits present issues that no Illinois court has ever decided. In such cases, the trial court may “certify” a question, so the parties can ask an appellate court to decide the issue.  The appellate court does not have to decide a “certified question,” and usually does so only where it considers the issue especially important.

Q.        Should I handle my own appeal?

Absolutely not.  Appeals are notoriously technical, and we strongly recommend against non-lawyers trying to handle their own appeals.

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