Appealing a Criminal/Quasi-Criminal Court Conviction for Pro Se (Unrepresented) Litigants
NOTE: These instructions are primarily for pro se (unrepresented) defendants. If you intend on retaining an attorney for the appeal, you should still file your Notice of Appeal (see # 1 below) to protect your rights. Your attorney can thereafter "perfect" the appeal. You should read the following in it's entirety before proceeding with the appeal.
Requesting an assigned attorney to represent you on the appeal
NOTE: If you believe that you are entitled to assigned counsel or if you wish to proceed without an attorney, but wish to request poor person status for payment of the transcripts on the appeal because of indigency, you must make an application to the appellate court (County Court) for poor person status. If granted by the County Court, you must file a copy of the Order of the County Court with the City Court. You should file your Notice of Appeal (see # 1 below) within thirty (30) days of your conviction before making application to the County Court. This will protect your right to continue with the appeal should your application for poor person status be denied.
NOTE: If you are represented by an attorney at the time of the conviction, your attorney should file the Notice of Appeal. Be sure to advise your attorney at the time of the conviction that you wish to appeal so that the Notice of Appeal may be filed within the proper time limits. If you have assigned counsel at the time of conviction, your assigned counsel will need to make an application to the County Court for him/her to continue as assigned counsel on the appeal.
NOTE: A Notice of Appeal is merely a written statement to the Court indicating your intention to proceed with an appeal. The filing of the Notice of Appeal with the City Court is the first step, but is not, by any means, the appeal itself. You will have an opportunity to "perfect" the appeal, that is, provide the appellate court (the County Court) with your written arguments only after the transcript of the court proceedings have been prepared and the City Court has filed the Return on Appeal (the City Court file) with the appellate court. The specific procedures for proceeding with an appeal are listed below.
The defendant to a criminal or quasi-criminal (traffic infraction) case may appeal to have his/her conviction reviewed by a judge of the County Court by following the following instructions.
Steps for proceeding with a criminal appeal
1. Within thirty (30) days from the date of conviction, file (by mail or in person) two copies (original and copy) of a written Notice of Appeal (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) with the City Court that heard and decided the case. The Notice should contain the caption of the case, the docket number associated with that case, and a statement that you (as the "appellant") appeal the conviction. You must also include your address in the Notice of Appeal.
You must also mail/deliver a copy of the Notice of Appeal (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) to the prosecuting attorney (this is either the Tompkins County District Attorney or the Ithaca City Attorney depending on the type of case) and file an Affidavit of Service (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) with the Court.
2. If there was a Court Reporter at trial:
If a Court Reporter was present in the Courtroom for the trial, you must contact that reporter and request a transcript of the trial. You must advise the Court Reporter that there is an appeal pending of the City Court decision and the reporter is then required to file an original transcript with the City Court. If you wish to obtain a copy of the transcript for your records, you must make those arrangements directly with the reporter.
The cost of the preparation of a transcript (both the court's original and any copy for your record) is solely your responsibility so you may wish to request an estimate of the cost of the transcript before ordering the transcript (Note: this is only an estimate and the actual cost may be less or more than the estimate). The reporter may require an advance deposit before starting the transcript and will require payment of the balance before releasing the transcript. (Note: If you have been granted poor person status by the County Court, you must file the Order of the County Court with the City Court to avoid the cost of the transcript.)
If there was no Court Reporter at the trial:
If there was no court reporter at the trial, the trial will have been taped on audio cassette. If this is the case, then you will need to make a written request to the City Court for the transcript to be prepared. Your written request must contain the date(s) of the trial/plea/sentence/other proceedings that you wish to have transcribed and the transcription service that you wish to use to prepare the transcript. Obtain a list of available transcription services. The Court Clerk will send the audio tape to the transcription service that you select.
It is your responsibility to pay for the cost of the two transcripts: one which will be filed with the Court and one for yourself. (Note: If you do not wish to have a transcript(s) provided to you, you must notify the transcription service that only one copy should be prepared and sent to the Court. You should be aware that the Court will not provide you with a copy of the transcript(s)). You may wish to request a cost estimate of the transcript(s) before ordering the transcript(s). (Note: this is only an estimate and the actual cost may be less or more than the estimate). The transcription service may require an advance deposit before starting the transcript and will require payment of the balance before releasing the transcript. (Note: If you have been granted poor person status by the County Court, you must file the Order of the County Court with the City Court to avoid the cost of the transcript.)
3. After the City Court has received the original transcript(s), the City Court will file a Return on Appeal (that is, the City Court file including the transcript) with the County Court. The City Court will notify the appellant that the Return has been filed with the County Court.
4. At this point, the matter is now to be considered by the County Court. If you wish to file additional documentation with the County Court, you should contact the County Court Clerk's office on the procedure for submitting additional documents. Copies of any documents that you provide to the Court should always be provided to the prosecuting attorney.
5. If, after you have started an appeal, you change your mind and wish to discontinue or withdraw the appeal, you must notify the City Court and County Court, in writing, of the discontinuance. You should also notify the prosecuting attorney that you will not be proceeding with the appeal. Of course, you will also be responsible for any costs associated with the appeal including any portion of the transcript that has already been prepared.
6. After the appeal has been decided by the County Court, a copy of that Decision will be mailed to you at the most recent address on file with the County Court.
Note: You may visit the Supreme Court Library located in your county for legal references on the filing of an appeal. Court personnel cannot provide legal advice.