How Long Does An Appeal Take?

Our goal is to make sure that every client is provided with a timely appeal, to the extent that is within our power. Unfortunately, appeals are, by their nature, a slow process and much of the timing of an appeal is beyond our control.

How long an appeal takes depends on several things, including whether the defendant went to trial or pled guilty, the length of the trial, and how quickly we are able to obtain all the necessary minutes, exhibits, and documents. It is common for an appeal from a trial case to take as many as 18 to 24 months between assignment of counsel on appeal and the court's decision. The following are the basic stages of the appeals process:

1. Gathering the "record on appeal" may take many months, especially if the record is long or the stenographers involved are no longer employed by the court system. We monitor the process and do our best to prevent inordinate delays, but this stage is largely out of our control.

2. Preparing the brief typically takes a few months after the "record on appeal" is complete. How long an individual case takes will depend on the length of the transcript, the complexity of the issues, and the length of time spent corresponding with our client to obtain his or her views. We try to complete each brief expeditiously, but our clients are usually serving long sentences. Providing us with their input once we have the record and are fully familiar with the case is often very important to them. Also, our main aim is to give our clients the best possible chance of success on appeal, which requires care and accuracy.

3. Once we file our brief, the District Attorney prepares a responding brief. Such a brief is usually filed about two or three months after our brief, although sometimes the District Attorney is given a longer time if the case is especially complex.

4. After the Appellate Division has received the briefs from both sides, it will place the case on a calendar for oral argument or submission. This may take anywhere from a month to several months. After the calendar date, the court issues its decision. Most cases are decided between one month and three or four months after the calendar date, but occasionally a decision may take longer.