Ninth Circuit Civil Appeals Toolkit

Resources to assist attorneys in litigating a civil appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, including guidance on commencing the appeal, preparing the briefs and excerpts of record, 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. §§ 12911295 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 may often petition for permission to appeal (FRAP 5(a) and see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1292(b)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 also less common in the courts of appeals than in the district courts.

The focus of the appellate process is the submission of written briefs with arguments for reversing, vacating, or affirming the district court's order or judgment. The circuit courts may also permit the parties to present oral argument to the panel of three judges deciding the appeal. The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (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 Ninth Circuit hears most appeals from the federal district courts in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, as well as the federal courts in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (28 U.S.C. §§ 41, 1294 and 48 U.S.C. §§ 14241821).

This Toolkit contains resources explaining the process for litigating civil appeals in the Ninth Circuit including:

  • How to take an appeal.

  • How to use the Ninth Circuit's Case Management/Electronic Case Filing ( (CM/ECF) system.

  • What preliminary steps a party must complete before it can address the merits of the appeal.

  • How to prepare the appellate briefs and the excerpts of record (which contain the relevant portions of the factual record from the district court).

  • How to make motions, if necessary.

  • How to present oral argument to the court.

  • What steps a party may take after the court decides the appeal, such as petitioning for rehearing en banc ( .


Practice Notes


Standard Documents



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