Top Chicago Criminal Appeals Attorney explains important definitions in appellate litigationPracticing appellate law is a very niche area of law with terminology unique to it. Below are definitions of some of the important appellate terms.

Appellant: The party bringing an appeal.

Appellee: The party defending the appeal.

Appendix: A mandatory part of the appellant’s opening brief. It must include a copy of the judgment being appealed, the notice of appeal, and any other document from the record on appeal that is relevant to the disposition of the appeal.

Appellate Brief: The written argument that is filed in the appellate court. The briefs are the most important part of the appeals process. The briefs can be mega filings that can be well over 50 pages.

Associate Judge: A judicial position appointed by circuit judges, pursuant to supreme court rules, for four-year terms. An associate judge can hear any case, except felony criminal cases except when specially authorized by the Supreme Court to hear all criminal cases.

Circuit Court: The trial level in the Illinois Court System. There are 24 circuit courts in Illinois, 6 of the 24 are single county circuit courts (Cook, Du Page, Lake, Kane, McHenry, and Will); the remaining circuits contain 2 to 12 counties per circuit.

Circuit Court Judge: Circuit judges are elected for a six year term and may be retained by voters for additional six year terms. They can hear any circuit court case. Circuit judges are initially elected either circuit-wide, from the county where they reside or from a sub-circuit within a county, depending on the type of vacancy they are filling

Common Law Record: The bound volume(s) of documents filed in the trial court during the pendency of the trial. The clerk of the circuit court must certify the common law record.

District Court: The trial level in the Federal Court System. Illinois is divided into the Northern District of Illinois, the Central District of Illinois, and the Southern District of Illinois.

Illinois Appellate Court: The court of first appeal for civil and criminal cases. All decisions by the Illinois Appellate Court decided after 1935 are binding on the circuit courts. The Illinois Appellate Court is divided into 5 Districts.

Interlocutory Appeals: An appeal that is filed before a final judgment is obtained in the trial court. Interlocutory appeals can only be filed in very limited situations.

Petitioner: A person bringing a petition. Used interchangeably with appellant although terms have different meanings.

Report of Proceedings: The bond volume(s) of the trial transcripts of the testimony given by the witnesses at trial. The court reporter must certify the report of proceedings.

Respondent: The name of the person defending a petition. Although respondent is used interchangeably with appellee they have different uses.

Supreme Court of Illinois: The supreme court of Illinois. The Court’s authority is granted in Article VI of the Illinois Constitution. The Court is comprised of seven justices elected from the 5 appellate judicial districts of the state: Three justices from the First District (Cook County) and one from each of the other four districts. Each justice is elected for a term of ten years. The Court has appellate jurisdiction over the Illinois appellate courts and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases

Supreme Court of the United States: The highest federal court of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, it has appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and over state court cases involving issues of federal law, plus original jurisdiction over a small range of cases.

Writs: An order from a higher court to a lower court or an order from a court to a government official to do something.

United States Court of Appeals: The first level appellate review in the federal system.
The U.S. Court of Appeals is divided into 13 courts. Illinois is located in the 7th Circuit.

These are just a few of the important terms used in appellate litigation. Any practitioner of appeals most know and be adept with all the terminology associated with filing an appeal.