Minneapolis Appeals Attorney

Guiding Clients Through Appeals in Family Law Matters in the Twin Cities 

Unfortunately, trial court judges, referees, and magistrates are not perfect; sometimes you may feel that they have made erroneous findings of fact, have not correctly applied the law to your case, or have abused their broad discretion resulting in an unfair result. If a trial court makes an error that substantially deviates from Minnesota law or flies in the face of logic given the facts of your case, a party has the right to have the decision reviewed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

It is important to realize that the Court of Appeals is not a forum for re-trying your case, or for presenting additional evidence which, had the trial court judge known might have caused the judge to make a different decision. The Court of Appeals is required to decide whether the trial court judge improperly applied the law or abused its discretion by reaching conclusions not supported by the evidence based solely on the record at the time the matter was tried or argued to the trial judge.

Sobol Family Law’s Brian Sobol is an experienced Minneapolis appeals lawyer who has participated in almost 100 appeals to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Supreme Court and has also participated in several rare attempts to seek US Supreme Court review of Minnesota family court issues. 

Contact Brian to discuss his opinion of your likelihood of success were you to decide to appeal one or more of the issues you feel were wrongly decided by the lower court, and the best arguments he believes should be presented to the appellate court. He is a skilled brief writer and is able to succinctly focus the key facts of your case to make the strongest argument in favor of your position, either as an appellant or respondent. He will also discuss with you the time limits of filing your appeal, as there are strict jurisdictional limits to how soon after a lower court decision is made that an appeal must be filed. Missing those limits will bar you from presenting your appeal. 

If you are looking to appeal a judgment, time is of the essence. Call (866) 484-4079 or fill out an online contact form to speak to an attorney today.

Award-Winning Representation
Brian is the only lawyer so ranked in Minnesota who is also a diplomate in the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, a by-invitation only group of 100 of the top family trial lawyers in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an equally select group of the top family lawyers in the nation. Get his experience on your side today.

The Appeal Process

At the Court of Appeals, a panel of three judges new appellate court judges is assigned to each case. In Minnesota, after the party who initiates the appeal, called the appellant, files the necessary paperwork to commence the appeal, and the respondent, if they so elect, files preliminary responsive paperwork, an Order will be issued staying the appeal and first ordering the parties to participate in appellate mediation. A list of mediators will be provided, and from this list, the appellate mediator will be selected. The mediator will first review the preliminary appeal documents and the underlying court order being appealed, and will then speak with counsel to determine what other paperwork the mediator will review prior to appellate mediation. Appellate mediation is different in that the parties already know how the lower court has ruled.

If appellate mediation is not successful, the appeal continues, and the appellant will first order a copy of the trial transcript. Once the transcript is completed, the appellant in most cases has thirty days to file a brief (written memorandum) outlining the important facts of the case and presenting an argument as to why the trial court’s decision should be reversed. The respondent then has 30 days to file a responsive brief, and then the appellant has 10 days to reply to the respondent’s brief.

The Court of Appeals during the briefing process will send out a notice scheduling the matter for oral arguments before the three-judge panel. Oral arguments since the pandemic began have been by Zoom. At oral argument, the appellant’s lawyer is given fifteen minutes to argue, the respondent’s lawyer is given fifteen minutes to respond, and finally, appellant’s lawyer is given five minutes to reply. The judges on the panel are allowed to interrupt the attorneys’ arguments frequently, and often do, asking questions to probe the soundness of each party’s position and argument. 

Once the argument is completed, the panel will privately discuss your case, and then one of the three judges will write an opinion on behalf of the three-judge panel. Occasionally, not all three judges will agree, in which case a majority of two is necessary to reach an opinion, with the third judge occasionally writing a separate opinion dissenting from the majority opinion. Written opinions from the Court of Appeals are to be issued within ninety days of oral argument. The opinions are available by internet once issued. 

Court of Appeals decisions may affirm the lower courts’ decision in its entirety, may reverse a lower courts’ decision in its entirety, or may affirm part of the decision and reverse part of the decision. If a portion of the trial court decision is reversed, the matter usually will be sent back down to the trial judge to correct errors found by the appellate panel.

Supreme Court Discretionary Review

In rare instances, a party who is not satisfied with a Court of Appeals decision may ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the decision. The Minnesota Supreme Court may, but is not required to accept review, and only a few family law cases each year are accepted for review by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The Importance of Making a Timely Decision to Appeal

There are strict rules limiting the time during which an appeal from a district court decision may be brought. It is extremely important that a decision about whether to file an appeal be made quickly. If the appeal deadline passes before an appeal is filed, then the trial court’s decision will stand, even if it involves a clear misapplication of settled law.

A knowledgeable Minneapolis appeals attorney can assist you in this matter. Call Sobol Family Law at (866) 484-4079 today to learn more about your unique situation.


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