Step 4: Order the trial transcripts.
Typically, the appeals court will need to review the trial transcripts, which are the written record of the trial. It is the appellant’s responsibility to order and pay for the transcripts. Usually transcripts are ordered through the trial court reporter. Check with the trial court clerk’s office to determine the process for your state. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Transcripts are expensive. They are typically charged based on the number of pages, and therefore the cost is determined by the length of the trial. Check to see if your state offer’s transcript fee waivers based on income eligibility. If so, you will need to complete the required forms to request the waiver, which often includes a financial statement that proves your income.
- Check with the trial court and/or the appellate court clerk about any deadlines related to the transcripts. Often there is a deadline for when the transcripts must be requested (and paid for), usually based on the date the Notice of Appeal is filed. For example, you may have to request the transcripts within 14 days of filing the Notice of Appeal. If your state has a deadline for when the transcripts must be prepared and they will not be ready in time, you will need to file a motion in the appeals court asking for an extension of the deadline and stating why you will not have the transcripts on time – for example, if the court reporter can’t complete the transcripts by the deadline.
- Check with the appellate court as to whether you need to file any paperwork confirming that you have ordered the transcripts.
- Check with the appellate court to ask if you must provide a copy of the transcript to the appellee. Typically, the trial court reporter (“court stenographer”) or whoever is preparing the transcripts will send the original directly to the trial court to be included in the record. However, often the appellant will be responsible for sending a copy of the transcript to the appellee.