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Appellate Law

We understand the hardship and loss that is suffered after an accident involving serious injury or death.  Accident victims and families in the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, rely on the experienced accident attorneys at Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben to help them navigate the aftermath of difficult situations.


While you may have only one chance at life, American law sometimes gives you a second chance. That second chance is found at the appellate courts. Appellate courts review the work of the lower court to make sure the law has been properly applied. To do well in an appellate court, you need an experienced appellate lawyer with special skills and abilities – someone who can persuade three or more legal minds that your view of the law is correct, even if the trial judge disagreed with you. That takes a special lawyer and one that specializes in appellate law.

Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben’s appellate law department is led by Jim Ballentine. Jim was named as 2008 “Super Lawyer” by Law & Politics magazine.


Minnesota has two appellate courts, the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Minnesota Court of Appeals is the state’s intermediate appellate court. The court of appeals reviews hundreds of cases annually which were initiated at some lower court level, i.e., state district court, conciliation court or workers’ compensation court. Virtually all parties who are dissatisfied with the resolution of their claim in the lower court have an absolute right to ask the court of appeals to review their claim.

The Minnesota Supreme Court is Minnesota’s final appellate court. Litigants who believe the court of appeals has erred may petition the Supreme Court to review the court of appeals decision. Aggrieved parties do not have an absolute right to appeal to the Supreme Court. In fact, the Supreme Court receives hundreds of petitions for review annually but accepts relatively few cases. Depending on the issue involved, a party who is dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision may ask a federal court to review the Supreme Court’s decision.

The State of Minnesota is in the federal eighth judicial circuit. Litigants may bring certain cases in federal court rather than in state district court, depending on the issues and parties involved. The first level federal court is the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Parties who wish to have district court decisions reviewed appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.


NOTE: Although these timelines are valid as written in Minnesota state law, the state does have exceptions and reserves the right to change appellate timelines. Always consult with your attorney or the state following a judgment if you believe an appeal is justified.

United States Supreme Court – In civil and criminal cases, the individual has 90 days to petition the United States Supreme Court after receiving a final judgment from the highest court in Minnesota.

United States Court of Appeals – With the vast number of timelines and variations, it is best to talk to an attorney or the United States Court of Appeals office to get the current timeline for the appeal of your particular case.

Minnesota Supreme Court – To bring a case to the Supreme Court, the lawyers for the parties must file briefs, or written arguments, explaining in detail the basis of the appeal and the law that applies. Accompanying these briefs will be all the records of the case from the trial court. These records include a court reporter’s word-for-word transcript of witness testimonies and lawyer statements in the trial, the judge’s orders, exhibits and a decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, if applicable. This appeal must be perfected within 30 days of the entry of the final judgment.

Minnesota Court of Appeals – To start an appeal of a judgment, the individual must file a brief (a brief explains in writing why the case is being appealed) within 60 days of the judgment (final decision in District Courts of Minnesota) being entered.


Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben is Minnesota’s largest personal injury law firm.  We maintain a national reputation for achieving substantial settlements and jury verdicts for our clients.

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