Cross-Appeals

Proposed Amendments to the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure

The Advisory Committee on the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure, of which I am a member, has been working with the SJC on potential changes to the rules.  The Court has made the proposals publicly available, and has invited public comment.  The deadline for any comments is July 1.

A quick summary of key changes may be helpful (though you should note this list isn’t exhaustive):

  1. Rule 1C: Electronic Signatures. The proposed rules include a new Rule 1C, which permits lawyers to sign documents electronically.  This will be familiar to practitioners, as it is patterned on and would make permanent the SJC’s pandemic orders permitting electronic signatures.
  2. Rule 2A(b): Appearances of Counsel. The amendments would clarify that, when an appeal is docketed in the Law Court, only members of the Maine bar are deemed to represent parties on appeal.  Any out-of-state attorneys must file a

Tricky Issues of Appellate Procedure: Timeliness and Cross-Appeals Edition

Yesterday the Law Court, in an opinion written by Justice Connors, Concord General Mutual Ins. Co. v. Estate of Collette J. Boure, touched on two important appellate issues – one of which has been addressed often on this blog.  The issues involve timeliness of an appeal and the need for cross-appeals.

The case involved claims for insurance coverage in a motor vehicle accident.  One insurance company, Concord General Mutual Insurance Co., filed a declaratory judgment action against the decedent’s estate.  The Estate counterclaimed and brought a separate action against another insurer, 21st Century Centennial Insurance Co. After consolidating the cases, the Superior Court granted summary judgment in the insurers’ favor.  Judgment entered in favor of Concord on March 4, 2020, and in favor of 21st Century on February 24, 2021.  The Estate then appealed on March 10, 2021, identifying both judgments, and Concord filed a cross-appeal to argue for affirmance based on alternative grounds.

First,

It’s Time to Clarify When Cross-Appeals Are Necessary

Much has been said on this blog about when one should cross-appeal, given the Law Court’s jurisprudence on the topic.  I most recently addressed the issue here.  As I noted then, there is some tension between the text of the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure, which provides that “[i]f the appellee seeks any change in the judgment that is on appeal, the appellee must file a cross-appeal to preserve that issue,” M.R. App. P. 2C(a)(1), and the Court’s most recent rulings (in Jones v. Secretary of State and Reed v. Secretary of State) regarding the necessity of cross-appealing to preserve an alternative argument for affirmance.  Because of the importance of this issue, my colleague Nolan Reichl and I recently published an article in the Maine Bar Journal (at page 10) addressing the topic.

As we wrote there,

Recent decisions by the Law Court have raised questions concerning

So You Should Cross-Appeal To Preserve an Alternative Argument – But Should You Have To?

I recently blogged about the need to file a cross-appeal of a favorable judgment in order to preserve an argument that provides alternate grounds for affirmance at the Law Court.  As I noted, the Court has declined to reach alternative arguments for affirmance where the prevailing party did not cross-appeal.

The Law Court recently did so again, in Jones v. Secretary of State.  In that case, the Superior Court had found in favor of petitioners challenging a determination by the Secretary of State that there were insufficient signatures to place a people’s veto onto the November ballot.  While the Superior Court held in favor of the petitioners on the single count asserted, it did not accept all of the arguments raised by the petitioner.  The Secretary of State appealed, and the petitioners did not cross-appeal from the judgment in their favor.  Before the Law Court, the petitioners asserted that one of the arguments raised below provided alternative grounds for

When in Doubt, Cross-Appeal!

The Law Court recently addressed an issue of great importance to appellate practitioners: does a party need to cross-appeal a favorable judgment in order to preserve an argument providing alternate grounds for affirmance, when the lower court rejected that argument? The answer, per the Law Court’s decision, is “yes.” As the Law Court’s decision makes clear, and as my predecessor on this blog has noted, a cross-appeal is the only way to ensure that you will be able to raise the argument on appeal.

The decision, Reed v. Secretary of State, which is also very interesting substantively, involved a challenge to the Secretary of State’s determination that proponents of a citizen initiative had gathered enough signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. The petitioner’s challenge required the Superior Court to interpret statutes, 21-A M.R.S. § 903-E and 4 M.R.S. § 954-A, regulating the activities of notaries. Intervenors in the action argued in the Superior Court that