How long will my appeal take?

The appeal of a temporary order (an interlocutory appeal) must be filed in the Massachusetts Appeals Court within thirty days after the order appealed from. A decision will typically be rendered in less than one month, typically in days.

The appeal of a final decision of the trial court will typically take at least one year. There are several factors that determine the length of time.

  • • First is the delay in hiring appellate counsel.

  • • Second is the time required to transcribe the necessary hearings, including trial.

  • • Third is the time taken by the trial court to assemble the record for appeal.

  • • Fourth is any extension of time requested and allowed by the appellate court for filing a brief. The party challenging the trial court decision typically has only forty days to file their opening brief. Then the party defending the trial court decision typically has only thirty days to file their answer brief.

  • • Sixth, if the answer brief is filed in February to August then the case will not be heard until the following court year (September to June or July).

  • • Finally, the appellate court decides cases within thirty to one hundred and thirty days after it is taken under advisement.

This timeline can be extended in the appeal of a criminal conviction if there is a need to pursue a new trial motion.

An appeal can be extended if either party seeks further appellate review. If the case was decided in the Massachusetts Appeals Court then further appellate review may be sought in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. When State appellate review has been exhausted then the appeal could proceed for consideration in the Supreme Court of the United States, if there is a significant federal issue present.

More answers to frequently ask questions about appeals are available on this website. If you have additional questions, or are ready to proceed with your appeal, call Appellate Attorney William Driscoll at 978-846-5184.