Illinois Civil Appellate Procedure: Preparing and Filing Record on Appeal

In the Illinois Appellate Court, one of the first tasks the attorney for the appellant must attend to is making sure the record on appeal is prepared. The appellant is responsible for ordering the record on appeal and paying the fee for its preparation. The Illinois Supreme Court Rules that generally govern the record on appeal are Rules 321 through 329. First, let’s take a look at what comprises the record on appeal.

The record on appeal should consist of the judgment appealed from, the notice of appeal and the entire common law record. There are a few instances in which the record on appeal would not include the entire common law record. Those instances are: 1) the parties stipulate to less than the entire common law record; 2) the trial court, after notice and hearing, orders less; or 3) the reviewing court, after notice and hearing, orders less. The record on appeal should also include the report of proceedings. The reviewing court may order any documentary exhibits in the trial court, including physical exhibits and evidence, be included in the record on appeal. The record will be arranged into three sections: the common law record, the report of proceedings and the trial exhibits.

Report of Proceedings
The report of proceedings may consist of evidence, oral rulings of the trial judge, a brief statement of the trial judge of the reasons for his decision and any other proceedings or evidence the appellant feels are pertinent to the appeal. The appellant is responsible for ensuring the report of proceedings has been ordered and prepared by the court reporting personnel. This is done when the docketing statement is filed. The docketing statement is generally due 14 days after the filing of the notice of appeal. There are instances in which this is not the case and you should reference Rule 312 for specifics. Unnecessary or immaterial matter should not be incorporated in the report of proceedings.

If there is no verbatim transcript available, a bystander’s report must be prepared. Rule 323 provides the specifics relating to compiling a bystander’s report. Another alternative to the report of proceedings is the filing of an agreed statement of facts. The parties can agree to this by written stipulation and it is filed in lieu of the report of proceedings.

Preparation and Certification
The record on appeal will be prepared, bound and certified by the clerk of the trial court. It should be in chronological order, numbered consecutively with the letter “C” and no volume should exceed 250 pages. Once the estimated fees are paid, the clerk will either transmit the record to the reviewing court or, upon request, deliver it to the appellant for transmission to the reviewing court. If either party requests, a certificate in lieu of record can be prepared and filed with the reviewing court to allow the parties to review the record. Rule 326 sets forth the time for filing the record on appeal. The general time period is 63 days after the filing of the notice of appeal or 14 days after the expiration of the extended time for filing a report of proceedings. There are, of course, exceptions to this time frame and they are set forth in Rule 326.

Reviewing the Record
It is always a good idea for the appellant to review the record as soon as possible. That way, if any errors are discovered, they can be corrected before you begin to prepare the opening brief.

This was just a short synopsis of the requisites for the record on appeal. Practitioners should refer to the Illinois Supreme Court Rules and also the local rules for each district to insure they are meeting all the necessary requirements.

Should you have any questions regarding the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts’ rules and procedures, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. My colleagues and I at Counsel Press’ office in Chicago specialize in the rule-compliant appellate filings in the Illinois Appellate Court (all districts), Illinois Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Supreme Court and Indiana Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

Read related articles:
Appealing from the Illinois Appellate Court to the Illinois Supreme Court: Which of the Three Available Methods is Appropriate for Your Case?
Illinois Appellate Court Procedure: Preparing a Supporting Record

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