Illinois Supreme Court Amends Appellate Rules

The Illinois Supreme Court ordered rule amendments today that affect the sticky question of the timely filing of a notice of appeal. That’s important because a notice of appeal must be filed timely to gain appellate jurisdiction. The court amended Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303, which sets out the general scheme for filing a Notice of Appeal after a final judgment. The amendments, effective May 1, 2007, add protection for a party who appeals prematurely in certain circumstances. Here are the major points:

• “A notice of appeal filed after the court announces a decision, but before the entry of the judgment or order, is treated as filed on the date of and after the entry of the judgment or order.” Before this rule change, that same notice of appeal filed before entry of the judgment would be premature and would not invoke appellate jurisdiction.

• If an appeal is filed before a ruling on a timely filed postjudgment motion, “or before the final disposition of any separate claim, [the notice of appeal] becomes effective when the order disposing of said motion or claim is entered . . .” Before this change, that same notice of appeal would be premature and would not invoke appellate jurisdiction. The rule required that the premature appeal be withdrawn. A party could invoke appellate jurisdiction only with a new, timely notice of appeal.

• “. . . [W]here a postjudgment motion is denied, an appeal from the judgment is deemed to include an appeal from the denial of the postjudgment motion.” Thus, a second notice of appeal, to include the denial of a post-trial motion will not be necessary. However, the amendment requires a second notice of appeal if the postjudgment order changes the original judgment or resolves a separate claim.

The Supreme Court also tidied up Rule 341 on the form of briefs. These amendments, effective immediately, require footnotes to be double-spaced and a minimum 12-point type to be used “throughout the document, including quoted material and any footnotes.”

The amended rules are available by clicking here.