Citizen’s guide to appeals


Here’s a handy little guide:

A Guide to Appeals for the Maine Supreme Judicial Court August 2008

I believe this is posted both on the Court’s website and, another useful site I’ve added to the side bar.

It is my understanding that Maine’s modern appellate rules are animated by Justice Alexander’s concern that, given the large number of litigants acting pro se, the process should be made as simple and easy to follow as possible. This was a major goal of the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure, and this guide is a clear and simple summary of both those Rules and his book on appellate practice (see earlier posting on the latter).  While the guide is for lay people, it’s certainly helpful for lawyers as well. Little nuggets can be gleaned from it, too.

For example, it says, after a general caveat, that appeals are normally decided within three months.  This shows we still have one of the fastest courts around, and it’s also useful to tell clients (although many decisions take longer with no discernible cause, such as a dissent).  By putting that time in print, the Court is standing behind a clear aspiration, and given how often justice delayed can be justice denied, we are once again lucky folk to be practicing here.