How to File a Notice of Appeal in South Carolina

Appellate law everywhere, but also in South Carolina, is a very specialized area of law.  There are a number of obstacles and traps to watch out for, from issue preservation to deadlines.  But the process is navigable – it just requires some familiarity with the rules.

The step that begins the appellate process is the Notice of Appeal.  If you’re on the wrong end of a verdict or decision and you want to appeal, then you’ll want to promptly file a Notice of Appeal.

The Caveat:  Do keep in mind that there are a number of different types of appeal, from the worker’s compensation commission to probate courts to summary courts.  This post will discuss the most common type of appeal, which is an appeal from the circuit court.  Be aware that there are different rules for appeals from different courts, so if you are in that situation, you should look into those particular rules.  Those can be found in the particular rules for that court, in the Rules of Civil Procedure, or in statutes.

What is a Notice of Appeal:  The Notice of Appeal is a very basic document.  This is not a document where you lay out all of your issues and give a lot of detail as to what your appeal is about.  Instead, it’s what it sounds like – just a notice.

What to Include:  Rule 203 of the Appellate Court Rules lays out what should be included in the Notice.  This is fairly basic stuff.  The Rules also tell you what must be included with the Notice.  You will need a copy of the order you are appealing from, a Proof of Service (to show you’ve served the other party and clerks), and a filing fee.

Timeline:  Under the Rules, you have 30 days to file and serve your Notice of Appeal.  Of course, you can take advantage of the “mailbox rule” but do keep in mind that you must both file and serve within that time period.  There are some things which can change the 30-day timeframe.  For example, if you get an order from a judge that tells you that a more complete order is coming, then your 30 days doesn’t run until you get that more complete order.  (I’ll talk in other posts about why you sometimes need to insist on a more complete order for purposes of an appeal.)  The timeframe is also altered by post-trial motions, such as a motion for JNOV or a motion to alter or amend.  These motions stay the 30-day period.  Understand, however, that the motions stay the timeframe, not re-start it.  Consequently, if some time has run before you file your post-trial motion, you may not have a full 30 days after the court ruling.  Always err on the underside.

Cross-Appeals:  Another thing to consider is cross appeals.  Sometimes you’re happy enough with a decision, but if the other side is going to take the case up, you have some issue you’d like to raise too.  This can be a useful way of raising the stakes on the appealing party, to ensure they have some skin in the game.  For a party filing a cross-appeal, the timeframe is 5 days from the date that you received the notice.  There are some qualifications to that – if the other side hasn’t used up the whole 30 days in filing the Notice – but you shouldn’t bank on that.

Destination:  You have everything together, but where should it go?  You should send the Notice three places.  First, the Notice should go to the clerk of the court you are appealing from.  Second, it should go to the clerk of the Court of Appeals.  Finally, you must, of course, serve opposing counsel.  You’ll need to set out in the Proof of Service that you’ve met those requirements.

Moving On:  If you’ve done all of these things, compiled your notice, included the necessary documents, written the check for the filing fee, and sent it all out in the required timeframe, then you’re done.  You’ve filed you notice.  The next step is to move into requesting the transcript and filing your briefs, which I’ll cover in another post.

Jay Anthony is a lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina.  He has been recognized in Best Lawyers and Greenville Business Magazine’s Legal Elite, based entirely on votes of colleagues.  A former law clerk on the state supreme court, Jay practices in appellate law, among other areas.  He has handled appeals at all levels of South Carolina’s appellate system and has appeared before the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of South Carolina, as welll as the Department of Social Services and the Full Commission of the Worker’s Compensation Commission.  Learn more at Appellate Law.