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Frequently Asked Questions
Note: This information is intended as a helpful but general resource for the public and members of the bar. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and consistency with Arizona laws and official rules of court which are controlling and should be consulted for more specific information.
What is an appeal?
An appeal is a review of a judgment or order of a trial court or administrative tribunal. The appeals court hears no witnesses and does not determine facts. Its review is generally limited to alleged errors of law or fact determinations that allegedly are not supported by any evidence. The Court of Appeals can only consider appeals within its jurisdiction, as prescribed by the Arizona Legislature. The court can consider only those judgments, orders, and other matters that, by statute, are appealable. Thus, not every order or decision can be appealed.
Where can I find out more about Arizona appeals?
The Arizona Appellate Handbook is a very good reference source consisting of a three-volume set that covers all types of appeals. It is available in law libraries, such as the University of Arizona Law Library and the law libraries in each of the superior courts in the various counties.

Appeal procedures are governed by statutes and court rules. Special actions, juvenile appeals, criminal appeals, and civil appeals have their own sets of rules. These rules can be found at law libraries and on the Internet.

Most (but not all) statutes that govern appeals can be found in Title 12 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and, for criminal cases, in Title 13.
What are the hours of operation and location of the Clerk's Office for filing purposes?
Documents can be filed in the Clerk's Office, which is located in Tucson at 400 W. Congress St., North Building, second floor, in Suite 200. The Clerk's Office is open for business Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for state holidays. Electronic filing can be accomplished any day, at any hour, with the exception of any posted site-maintenance intervals.
What are the costs for filing fees, copies, and certification?
Description of Fees, Copies, and Certification Cost
Direct Appeal and Cross Appeal (Appellant) $280
Direct Appeal (Appellee) $140
Special Action Petitioner $280
Special Action Respondent $140
Intervenors Direct Appeal and Special Action $140
Minimum Clerk Fee Certification Only $17
Per Page Fee for Copies $.50
How can I contact someone in the Clerk's Office directly?
You can telephone the main office at (520) 628-6954.
What is the process for filing a notice of appeal and what steps happen before it reaches the Clerk's Office?
Notices of Appeal are filed at the Clerk's Office of whichever superior court is involved in the case, not the Court of Appeals. The appropriate county superior court can be contacted for more information.
What initiating documents can and cannot be filed directly?
Initiating documents that can be filed directly with the Court of Appeals are:
  • special action petitions
  • petitions for review from a denial of post-conviction relief
A notice of appeal (civil or criminal) cannot be filed directly with the Court of Appeals.
Does a litigant have a choice of filing in Division One or Division Two?
No. The two divisions have responsibility for different counties in the state. Division Two is responsible for cases arising in Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties.
Where can I find information about briefs, and what should my brief look like?
The rules governing each type of appeal include specific requirements for briefs. The rules are available online at: Arizona Court Rules. You may also visit a local law library or stop by the Clerk's Office for copies of the rules. A brief that does not comply with the rules can be rejected by the judges.
Why does it take so long for the court to render its decision or opinion? Are there specific time periods or timelines for decisions?
How soon a decision is filed depends on many things, including the complexity of the issues raised, the caseloads of the judges, and scheduling considerations. In addition, some of the time required is built into the process. For example, the court reporter and the superior court clerk are given time to prepare transcripts and gather and transmit the record to the appeals court. Then, there are fixed time periods for filing briefs. Once an appeal is ready to be decided, it is assigned to a court department to be considered as soon as possible. Some decisions take longer, for example, in complex cases or when the three judges of the department are not in agreement on the decision.
Can I contact the court regarding the status of my case, including why a decision has not yet been rendered?
Any litigant or attorney should feel free at any time to contact the court clerk’s office (520-628-6954) to speak to Jeff Handler, the clerk of the court, or to any deputy clerk, to ask about such matters and should not hesitate to do so. The court is not at all offended by, and in fact encourages, such inquiries. Please remember that we cannot tell you which particular judge is working on your case, nor can anyone accurately predict the exact date a decision will be rendered. We can tell you generally where the case is in the system.
Is a special action different from an appeal?
Yes. A special action is Arizona's name for the traditional writs of certiorari, mandamus, and prohibition. Special actions can be brought in superior court or in an appellate court. Appellate special action relief is not available when there is an adequate remedy by appeal. Only certain questions can be raised in a special action, such as whether the respondent has proceeded without legal authority. As a result, the great majority of special actions are either dismissed, or the Court of Appeals declines to accept jurisdiction of them. Challenges to Industrial Commission awards in workers' compensation matters are also called special actions because they are made so by statute.
What are the timelines for filing a special action?
There are no timelines for filing a special action. But, it may be difficult to convince the court that an appeal is not an appropriate remedy if a great deal of time has passed before the petitioner asks for special action relief.
My special action was dismissed before the other side responded. Why?
See the section in this site on Court Policies. Special action petitions are screened by the judges. If they determine that a petition fails to establish a reason the court might accept jurisdiction, they may dismiss the petition without ordering a response.
When the court declines jurisdiction of a special action, why can't I have an explanation of the court's decision?
When the court declines jurisdiction, it is exercising its discretion not to decide the case—a decision that can be based on a variety of reasons, both procedural and substantive. The court is not required to give a reason for declining jurisdiction. Doing so could constitute a comment on the merits, something that is appropriate only when the court exercises its jurisdiction and decides the case.
What are the timelines for final mandates?
Mandates can be issued after the time for filing a motion for reconsideration and/or a petition for review has expired or fifteen days after notice that a petition for review to the Arizona Supreme Court has been denied.
Will my appeal be heard with oral argument?
The court may schedule oral argument on its own or if one of the parties timely requests it and the court agrees that oral argument might be helpful in deciding the case. The court generally favors oral argument if there is any doubt about whether it will be useful. An exception to this rule is special actions, in which oral argument is generally not granted.
How can I best use my time at oral argument?
The panel has always read the briefs and is familiar with the case. Sometimes the presiding judge suggests that counsel dispense with a statement of the facts. That is generally good advice, whether or not the presiding judge mentions it.

Make your strongest argument first. You are nearly certain to get questions from the judges. Do not view these as inconvenient interruptions, but as opportunities to answer any unresolved questions in the judges' minds. They will be deciding the case, and it is far better to spend your time answering their questions than to talk about something else. The questions may be difficult, but the judges are seeking your help in appropriately resolving the case.

This requires both preparation and flexibility on your part. Realistically assessing your case—both its strengths and weaknesses—and reviewing the record and key authorities will make oral argument more effective.

Be aware of the digital clock at the podium. You cannot ensure that you have reserved rebuttal time simply by saying, "I would like to save two minutes for rebuttal." You must watch your time and stop with two minutes remaining.
How can I get an award of attorney fees for the appeal?
Include your request in your brief and cite the civil authority for an award; attorney fees are generally not recoverable without statutory authorization. Explain why your case meets the statutory requirements for fee award. You do not need to state the amount of fees you are requesting. If the court awards you fees, you can prove the amount as part of your request for costs.
What is a certificate of compliance?
A certificate of compliance is required by the rules governing appeals. In it, the party tells the court what the brief's line spacing is and either that the brief has proportionately spaced typeface, giving the typeface, the point size, and the word count, or that the brief has a monospaced typeface, giving the number of characters per inch and the page count. The certificate does not need to be notarized.
What is a certificate of service?
A certificate of service is a statement by the sender of who was served with copies and the date and manner of service.
As an Arizona-licensed attorney, must all my court filings be done electronically?
Yes.
If I file a brief electronically, do I still need to file an original with the signatures on it?
No.
What if I have trouble e-filing?
Problems with e-filing are generally rare. If you experience any difficulty with e-filings, please contact the Clerk's Office at (520) 628-6954.
Where can I get a copy of a transcript from an old case?
Contact the court reporter at the appropriate superior court directly.
If I want to ask the appellate court to stay a trial proceeding, why do I need to first ask for a stay in the lower court?
It is the policy of the Court of Appeals to allow the trial judge who is familiar with the case to first weigh the necessity for issuing a stay. If the superior court refuses to issue a stay, then you can ask for a stay from the Court of Appeals.
Can I get an extension of time to file a brief, a motion for reconsideration, a petition for review, or to appear at oral argument?
See the Court Policies section of this site. Although some extensions are routinely granted, lengthy and repeated extensions for filing documents are strongly disfavored.
I have no attorney. Can I get counsel appointed for free or get a free transcript for a civil appeal?
There is no right to free counsel or a transcript for a civil appeal. As a party, you can act as your own lawyer, but you are expected to comply with the same rules that lawyers must obey. You may not act as a lawyer for someone else, such as a relative or a corporation, unless you are a licensed attorney.
How can I look up cases on the website?
Please visit the Court of Appeals Division Two website at: www.appeals2.az.gov
Why can't the Clerk's Office give legal advice?
The Clerk's Office staff members are not attorneys and, therefore are neither qualified nor permitted to give legal advice or to interpret the rules.
Why can't I speak directly with the judge(s)?
Judges are prohibited from speaking directly to parties in a case or their representatives by the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct to ensure fairness to all sides.
Can I get help in my appeal from the judge, the judge's law clerk, the staff of the Clerk's Office, or the staff attorneys?
None of these court personnel can give legal advice. Court staff may be able to answer questions about the status of an appeal or about standard court procedures.
Which judges will hear my case?
This information is available after the clerk assigns an appeal to a panel of three judges and can be found in the online docket. To use the online docket, go to: www.appeals2.az.gov
What is my case number?
You can obtain your case number on the court's website at: www.appeals2.az.gov or contact the Clerk's Office at (520) 628-6954.
Why is the Clerk's Office number listed as the information number in the phone book?
The Clerk's Office is the proper place to obtain court information. You may save time, however, by checking the court's website first.