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Understanding the Appeals Process in an Eviction Case | Brian Chase - Atlas Law

Facing an eviction order can be scary – especially if you feel that the decision the court has made is unfair and unjustified. Thankfully, Florida state law provides a way for you to fight the unjustified denial of an eviction by appealing the judgment in your eviction case. In this article, we will briefly walk you through the appeals process in Florida.

It is important to note that you can only file for an appeal after the final judgment was made in the eviction case. If you don’t agree with the judge’s decision in your case and you think that procedural errors have been committed in the first trial, you may have a good reason to file an appeal.

A landlord has 30 days from the date the eviction order was given to file an appeal by presenting the court with the required documents. The steps you must take in order for the appeals to be properly filed and recognized by the court include:

  • Notice of Appeal – The appellant must first file the notice of appeal with the appropriate appeals court (typically the court in which the final judgment was rendered). In addition, a filing fee of up to $300 must be paid.
  • Preparation of the Record – While the record is prepared by the clerk of the court, the appellant must ensure that the record contains all the records and documents they deem necessary to be included. The appellant will usually have 10 days to communicate their instructions to the clerk of the court.  This usually includes the additional of any trial transcripts, affidavits, or depositions that were taken as part of the original proceeding.
  • Docketing Statements and/or Disclosures – These include important information about the appeal such as the details of the initial judgment, parties involved, and attorneys who represent them.
  • Appellate Briefs – In appellate briefs, the parties present their arguments. Briefs are extremely important since the appellate court’s judgment will be based primarily on the information presented in the briefs. Unlike the original action, there is no trial.  No additional or new evidence is heard by the appellate court, as the purpose of the appeal is to argue that there was a procedural problem that occurred during the original eviction proceeding. The appealing party is responsible for presenting the initial brief. Once the initial brief is filed by the appealing party, the respondent will file the answer brief whose purpose is to defend the decision that was taken at the initial hearing. The appellant will have the chance to counter these arguments in the reply brief.

Appellate Proceedings

Once all the formal requirements pertaining to filing an appeal have been met, appellate proceedings may be initiated. Importantly, during an appeal, the appellate court will not consider new evidence or re-try the case. Rather, the purpose of the appeal is to find out if legal or procedural mistakes were committed at the initial hearing.

Some appeals may involve the oral argument in which parties appear before the court to present their position orally. The judges often takes advantage of this to ask additional questions to both the appellant and the respondent. The appellate court’s decision isn’t announced during the oral argument. Rather, the decision is issued in the written form after oral argument has been heard.  It is not uncommon for an appellate court to issue an opinion months after the oral argument occurs.

Landlords who lost their initial eviction hearing should be aware that filing an appeal on eviction judgment isn’t a DIY project. Moreover, it may be more cost effective to file a new eviction action instead of going through the appeals process.  Closely cooperating with an eviction lawyer with experience in real estate litigation will be crucial to the success of the appeal. Atlas Law attorneys have successfully represented the interests of landlords, including handling of appellate matters. If you are facing a court decision that you feel is unfair, please contact us immediately to take advantage of important protections our office can offer you.