Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Paying for the appellate record

I just talked to the local appellate clerk. She sent me a scary notice that my appeal may be in default because my $975 check for transcripts is insufficient. But her notice did not tell me how much I am supposed to pay!

Usually when I get a bill, the bill says how much I am supposed to pay. (Although I did just get a bill from IRS, and it didn't say how much I have to pay.)

The appellate clerk patiently explained the matter to me. She seemed to even remember me from my previous appeal a couple of years ago. I guess they don't get a lot of appeals from non-lawyers.

Here's the story. The Superior Court employs a clerk to prepare the record for appeal. That clerk prepares a Clerk's Transcript and a Reporter's Transcript. The Clerk's Transcript is just a bound copy of papers in the court file, such as orders and briefs. I paid $100 for the xeroxing; I might have to pay more if there are a lot of pages. The clerk numbers all the pages so that the appellate briefs can conveniently refer to the record.

The Reporter's Transcript is more complicated. The transcripts are done by court reporters, and they charge their own fees to produce those documents. Even if the clerk had all the transcripts on file, she cannot just xerox and bind them. The court reporters have to do it. Since there are several of them, they have to somehow get coordinated to produce a book where all the pages are numbered sequentially.

For a couple of the transcripts I needed, the court file already had copies. It seems odd that I have to go contract with the court report to produce another copy. But the clerk said that she cannot xerox a transcript. She admitted that she could send her only copy to the appellate court, but she could not mark appropriate page numbers on it. The result of that would be that the Reporter's Transcript would not have sequential page numbers, and it would be confusing.

So I wrote her a fat check which should cover producing a Reporter's Transcript with the nice page numbers. It will also cover making a copy for me.

I don't think that the money covers a copy of Reporter's Transcript for my ex-wife. I got the impression that she is supposed to contract and pay for her copy on her own. I am not sure what she did last time. (Julie, if you are reading this, you are welcome to use my copy if you wish.)

The clerk also asked about a written Findings and Order After Hearing (FOAH) for the order under appeal. She said that she could not find it. I said that as best as I could determine, there is a gray area in the law about whether I should wait for that, and I decided not to wait. She said that yes, it was a gray area in the law, but the appellate court really likes to have that FOAH, and they will complain if the FOAH is not on the record. I told her that my ex-wife had drafted a FOAH and submitted it to me for my approval. I didn't approve it, but my expectation is that she will submit it to Comm. Joseph soon, and we will have a signed FOAH long before the transcripts are completed. The clerk seemed happy with that, and said that everything was in order for the preparation of the appellate record. Completing the record could take a month or two, depending on how fast the court reporters are.

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