How Do I Get More Time to File My Appeal?

by Dana M. Hrelic

As an appellate lawyer with considerable experience in both state and federal appellate courts, I often receive calls from colleagues who are either in the midst of trying a case, or who have just received a decision or judgment in a case, looking to bend an ear.  If you are one of these lawyers, please – keep calling! I always enjoy our chats and look forward to the next time the phone rings.

But, because I so frequently am asked the same or similar questions, I was inspired to start reaching out with my thoughts on these, and perhaps other, probing questions. These tips are not meant to replace our calls.  Rather, take them for precisely what they are: short answers to commonly asked questions. Maybe they’ll help you in a pinch, or maybe they’ll remind you to call me so I can help you in a pinch. Either way, I hope they are of some help.

Keep an eye out for different tips each month. I also take requests, so feel free to reach out and let me know your burning questions. And finally, don’t wait till next month for the help you need today—call me anytime, any day if I can ever be of assistance talking through issues, developing strategy, recommending next steps, pursuing post-judgment action, or even just interpreting the almighty Practice Book.

How Do I Get More Time to File My Appeal?

Generally speaking, if you have an appealable final judgment, you have 20 calendar days to file your appeal. But what if you need more time? This question frequently arises where your client needs extra time not only to process and understand the judgment against them, but also to consider (1) whether there are non frivolous grounds upon which to base an appeal, and (2) if there are, whether taking an appeal is ultimately in their best interest to begin with. Appeals are not inexpensive and they are usually not fast—but that does not mean they are not worth it. It is important to do a cost-benefit analysis with every client in order to determine whether the time, the money, and the risks associated with an appeal offer a better solution than simply accepting the adverse judgment itself. (But how to have that discussion is a topic for another day.)

The easiest answer to the question of how to get more time to file an appeal is to simply ask for it. Practice Book § 66-1 allows for the filing of a motion for extension of time to file an appeal by no more than 20 days. P.B. § 66-1 (a). Such a motion must be filed with the clerk of the trial court, will be decided by the judge who tried the case, and may be granted “for good cause shown.” Id. N.B. This does not mean that it will be granted, however. Be prepared to explain precisely what the good cause that warrants extension of the appeal period in your case is and be prepared to file your appeal on time in case the motion is denied. You should file the motion as soon as possible after the need for an extension arises, preferably at least 10 days before the expiration of the appeal period you are seeking to extend. By allowing yourself and the court a 10-day buffer, you have bought yourself at least a little extra time: the Practice Book provides that should the motion be denied, you shall have no less than 10 days from issuance of the denial to file your appeal.

Another way to get more time to file an appeal is to file, within the original 20-day appeal period, a motion “that, if granted, would render a judgment, decision or acceptance of the verdict ineffective.” P.B. § 63-1 (c) (1). This includes, for example, a motion for a new trial, a motion to set aside the verdict or open the judgment, or a motion to reargue filed under P.B. § 11-11. See id. Note that motions to reargue filed under P.B. § 11-12 and motions for articulation or clarification do not toll the appeal period. See, e.g., Light v. Grimes, 136 Conn. App. 161, 168-70, cert. denied, 305 Conn. 926 (2012). If your § 11-11 motion to reargue is granted, an appeal cannot be filed until a new decision is entered following the reargument, as that is when the new appeal period begins. See, e.g., Gardner v. Falvey, 45 Conn. App. 699 (1997).

It is best to avoid playing games with motion practice in order to try to toll the appeal period; a motion for extension of time to file a § 11-11 motion to reargue, for example, will not toll the appeal period. Neither will a motion to reargue the denial of a motion to reargue. See, e.g., Charles v. Mitchell, 158 Conn. App. 98, 103-06 (2015). If you need more time than 20 days to file your § 11-11 motion, you can ask for it but make sure you file your appeal within the original 20-day appeal period or else you risk losing your right to appeal. If your § 11-11 motion is granted and the resultant ruling alters the initial judgment, you can always amend your appeal.

This discussion leaves for another day the question of “what do you mean, losing my right to appeal?” Stay tuned for our next Tip on what happens if you or your opponent file an appeal late. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to give me or any of our appellate attorneys a call and we can work through it together!

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