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In Alabama your appeal begins with the Notice of Appeal. Without it there is no appeal.  Without it the appellate court lacks the jurisdiction – the authority – to rule on an appeal.  It must be filed within a certain time, and with only a few exceptions, a late filed notice is the name as filing no notice of appeal at all.  Here’s a few points on how to file your notice of appeal in Alabama:

What the Notice of Appeal Does

The appellate process is separate from the trial system, but operates similarly.  Like how a complaint or a petition starts a lawsuit, the Notice of Appeal starts the appeal.  It’s main function is to Let the parties, the trial court, the appellate court, and the clerk know to prepare for an appeal.

As a matter of legal formality, the notice of appeal is what gives the appellate court jurisdiction to decide the case. Without jurisdiction an appellate court cannot change or reverse a trial court’s ruling – even if the trial court was clearly wrong.

Where the Notice of Appeal is Filed

The Notice of Appeal must be filed with the clerk of the trial court.  This means that even if you appeal your case to the Court of Civil Appeals in Montgomery, you must begin with filing in the county where your case was tried or being held.

For example, if your case had a trial in the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa, County, your Notice of Appeal would go to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk.  It is then the Clerk’s office that sends notice to the appellate clerk and starts the appeal.

What’s Included in the Notice of Appeal

The Notice of Appeal is not your opportunity to state your case, it merely gets the case going.  Therefore the information it requires is limited.

The Notice of Appeal must include:

  1. the name of each party (person and/or entity) that is appealing;
  2. the name of each opposing party;
  3. a description of the order being appealed (e.g., the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court’s Order of January 1, 2019); and
  4. the name of the court you are asking to take your appeal (e.g., the Court of Civil Appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals, etc.)

Where to Get More Help for Your Appeal

  1. Check out and use the fillable Notice of Appeal form created by the Alabama Administrative Office of the Courts;
  2. Look at Appellate Rule 3 which describes the Notice of Appeal, where it’s filed, and what it needs to include;
  3. Review the description of the Alabama Appellate Courts on the judicial branch website, and check out their frequently asked questions;
  4. Check out our post on when to file your notice of appeal and what to include in your brief (your argument of the case); and
  5. Contact the appellate attorneys at Browne House Law to either represent you in your appeal, or to hire them for consultation.

Whatever you do, don’t rely solely on this article.  Times change, rules change, and different circumstances call for different approaches.  To the extent possible, seek help from a qualified attorney.