Second Circuit Civil Appeals Toolkit

Resources to assist attorneys litigating a civil appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, including guidance on commencing the appeal, preparing the briefs and appendix, making motions, and presenting oral argument to the court.

Practical Law Litigation

When litigating a civil action in federal district court, a party generally has the right to appeal to a federal court of appeals (also known as a circuit court) from a final order or judgment ( that awards relief against it or denies some of the relief it sought (28 U.S.C. §§ 1291 and 1295 and see Forney v. Apfel, 524 U.S. 266, 271 (1998)). An aggrieved party normally also has the right to appeal from certain types of interlocutory ( (that is, non-final) orders, such as orders granting or denying injunctions (28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)). If an order or judgment is not appealable as of right, an aggrieved party often may petition for permission to appeal (Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) 5(a) and see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1292(b) and 1453(c)(1) and FRCP 23(f)).

The process for litigating an appeal differs from the process for litigating a case in federal district court. For example, there is no discovery in the court of appeals. The parties are normally bound by the factual record they developed in the district court. Motion practice is less common in the courts of appeals than in the district courts.

The appellate process centers on the submission of written briefs with arguments for reversing, vacating, or affirming the district court's order or judgment. The circuit courts also may permit the parties to present oral argument to the panel of three judges that will decide the appeal. The FRAP govern the appellate process but the local rules of each of the thirteen federal circuit courts may modify or add to the requirements of the FRAP.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit hears most appeals from federal district courts in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont (28 U.S.C. §§ 41 and 1294). This Toolkit contains resources explaining the process for litigating civil appeals in the Second Circuit, including:


Practice Notes


Standard Documents



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