Seventh Circuit Civil Appeals Toolkit
Resources to assist attorneys litigating a civil appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. This Toolkit includes guidance on commencing the appeal, preparing the briefs and record excerpts, making motions, and presenting oral argument to the court.
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 (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 Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) 5(a) and see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1292(b) and 1453(c)(1) and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 23(f)).
The process for litigating an appeal in a federal court of appeals 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 also may permit the parties to present oral argument to the panel of three judges deciding the appeal. The FRAP govern the appellate process, but the local rules of each of the 13 federal circuit courts may modify or add to the requirements of the FRAP.
The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit hears most appeals from federal district courts in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin (28 U.S.C. §§ 41 and 1294). This Toolkit contains resources explaining the process for litigating civil appeals in the Seventh Circuit, including:
How to take an appeal.
How to use the Seventh Circuit's Case Management/Electronic Case Filing ( www.practicallaw.com/0-521-5665) (CM/ECF) system.
What preliminary steps are required before a party can address the merits of the appeal.
How to prepare the appellate briefs and the appendix (which contains 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 ( www.practicallaw.com/3-502-7663) .