How Long Does an Appeal Take?

There are specific rules as to when the parties should file the record on appeal, their briefs, and how long the Court of Appeal has to file its decision after oral argument. But practice teaches that those rules are extremely flexible. And it also depends on which Court of Appeal you are in.

Appellants should file their Opening Brief approximately 70 days after they file their Notice of Appeal; Respondents should file their Answer Brief 30 days later; and the Appellants should file their final brief…the Reply Brief….20 days after that. But commonly parties ask the Court for more time……and the Court almost always gives the attorney more time. The wait from the time of filing the Reply Brief to oral argument varies dramatically from court to court. In Orange County, California, the wait is approximately 3 to 4 months.

In other Courts of Appeal, it can be as much as a 10 month wait. And in Federal Court, the wait can be over one year. There is rarely anything the attorney can do to speed up the process.

From the time of oral argument to the Court filing its decision also varies. Generally the California Courts of Appeal file their decisions in 4 to 6 weeks after oral argument–and by law must file it no later than 90 days after oral argument. The Federal Courts have no deadline but practice teaches that the Court generally files its opinion about 6 weeks after oral argument.

The fastest this attorney every saw a case go through the system was 6 months–the longest was 5 years. A good working “guess” in the California courts is anywhere from 12 to 16 months.