How expensive is an appeal?

You’ve just paid out large sums of money for a full civil trial. You’re afraid to look at the bill from your your attorney and the judgment amount makes you cringe. While you may be ready to throw in the towel and make the necessary payment arrangements, there may be one more step to take if you feel you’ve been robbed of a fair verdict.

As of 2010, the United States District Appeals Court charges a $450 docketing fee for filing the appeal. In some cases with an indigent party, the court may wave their fee, but certain requirements must be met. In addition, an experienced attorney will typically charge between $150 to $250 an hour for all the work they perform. However, many appeals can be surprisingly inexpensive. For instance when the appeal depends entirely on one clearly defined issue of law that has already been well briefed, it may cost very little to appeal because the work has already been done, your lawyer will simply need to put it together into the brief for the appeal. Other appeals – such as claims that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence -- typically require both printing the entire trial record and extensive analysis and briefing. Such appeals are relatively expensive as they can require extensive amounts of lawyers’ time. They also turn out less successfully.

The best cases, and the ones that are most successful, are those that involve either judge misconduct or a clearly erroneous verdict. An example of judge misconduct may be intentionally giving the jury instructions that are not in accordance with the law and that were not agreed upon by the parties. Another example could be a judge who chooses to rule against the modern interpretation of a law. If you feel you have a case that should be appealed, the best thing to do is consult with an experienced appeals attorney and get their honest opinion.