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Welcome to the Playoffs: Tips for an Appeal

Apr 4th, 2023

So, your civil case is at the Colorado Court of Appeals (“COA”).  Welcome to the playoffs, where you play fewer games, you have more umpires, and you’re opposing a team with more to lose.

Here are five things to consider before you step onto the field.

  1. Invest in a team that’s been to the playoffs.  

    Much to the dismay of loyal Rockies fans, the owners haven’t invested in proven talent.  Don’t be like the Rockies.  Instead, hire a legal team that has a successful track record at the COA.  There, you step to the plate only when you file your briefs and sometimes in a 15-minute oral argument in front of three judges who have researched the minutia of your case.  The best defense is a good offense, so hire an appellate team that has proved it will approach the pitch each time with its A game.

  2. Follow the rules. 

    Just as baseball teams must follow a set of rules that are subject to change, the COA has a set of rules called Colorado Appellate Rules(“CAR”).  The CARs outline every step of the game and are periodically updated.  If you don’t have counsel, follow the most current CARs to a T or you risk losing the game on technicalities.

  3. Watch the Pitch Clock. 

    A welcome change to the 2023 MLB season is the addition of a Pitch Clock to expedite play. Just like the MLB, the COA sets deadlines to ensure that the appeal doesn’t drag on. Follow the deadlines set in the CARs or face a strike.

  4. Have a full roster of your best players. 

    A couple of good players <cough, McMahon and Blackmon> can’t carry the day without the support of a full roster. Similarly, even the most talented appellate attorney can’t work magic at the COA without a complete record to support arguments. So, if you’re the party bringing the appeal, remember to designate the entire record– meaning the court file from the underlying action that you are appealing, which can include court filings, exhibits, and transcripts.  The judges will decide your case only on evidence it finds in the record.  And judges and their clerks (licensed attorneys that judges hire to help work on appellate cases) do read the record.

  5. Baseball and appeals are best approached with patience. 

    Never enter Coors Field or the COA thinking the game will end quickly. Appeals can take years.  So, sit back, support your team when it needs it, grab a beverage and crackerjacks, and settle in for some adrenaline rushes.

If you want to talk to an attorney with expertise in appellate law, Ogborn Mihm has several attorneys who have successfully practiced in the COA, many of whom are former COA and Colorado Supreme Court clerks.  We’d love to talk to you about the merits of your appeal (and the 2023 MLB rule changes).