Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts

HOW TO APPEAL A DECISION OR ORDER TO THE DC COURT OF APPEALS

The DC Court of Appeals is the only court in the District of Columbia where you can appeal a decision or order from:

 

This section explains:

Types of Orders and Decisions
that Can Be Appealed

Not all orders or decisions can be appealed.

You have a right to appeal:

  • Any DC Superior Court decision or order that is final and closes the case. Exception: You must file an Application for an Allowance to Appeal in a small claims case or a criminal case with no jail time and a penalty of less than $50.
  • Certain types of decisions or orders that are not final. Here are some examples:
    1. Family Court orders in neglect cases that change permanency goals from reunification to adoption [1] 
    2. Family Court orders that terminate parental rights or grant or deny an adoption petition [2] 
    3. Civil protection orders or other orders that grant, continue, modify, refuse, or end an injunction or refuse to modify an injunction [3] 
    4. Criminal Court orders that deny pre-trial detention, set release conditions, or authorize shelter care [4] ; and
    5. Juvenile Court orders listed in the DC Code [5] 
  • Any DC government agency, board, or commission decision that was issued in a “contested case,” meaning you had the right to present evidence, call witnesses, and question witnesses who testified against you.

If you do not have a right to appeal, you may still ask the Court of Appeals to hear your case.

  • If you are seeking review of a final decision in a small claims case or a criminal case with no jail time and a penalty of less than $50, you will have to file an Application for an Allowance to Appeal and show that your case presents a question of law that has not been but should be decided by the Court of Appeals. [6] 
  • If you are seeking review of a nonfinal order, you will have to satisfy specific requirements set out in case law, but the legal analysis will likely be complicated. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer about this.

How to Start Your Appeal

Appeals from DC Superior Court

If you are appealing a DC Superior Court decision or order, you must file a Notice of Appeal (NOA, for short) in Superior Court.

Exceptions:

  • If your decision or order was made by a magistrate judge, you must ask a DC Superior Court Associate Judge to review it before you start your appeal in the Court of Appeals.
  • If you filed an Application for an Allowance of Appeal

Appeals from a DC Government Agency

If you are appealing a DC Government Agency decision or order, you must file a Petition for Review in the Court of Appeals.

Deadline to Start an Appeal

In most cases, you have 30 days after the date on the decision or order you are appealing to file your Notice of Appeal or Petition for Review.

IMPORTANT! If you want to appeal a small claims case or a criminal case with no jail time and a penalty of less than $50 , you must file an Application for an Allowance of Appeal within 3 days of the date of the court’s decision. But if you received the court’s decision by mail, you have 8 days to file. When you file, include a copy of the certificate of service to prove what date you were served. Day 1 is the date on the certificate of service. [1] 

If you need more time, you may ask the Superior Court by filing a Motion for an Extension of Time.

How Much It Costs to Appeal

Your appeal may cost nothing: If you did not have to pay court fees in Superior Court because you had a fee waiver (you were given in forma paupers or IFP status), you will not have to pay fees on appeal.

If you cannot afford to pay the fees, you may ask the court for a fee waiver. Unless the court gives you a waiver, you will have to pay court filing fees, as well as any transcript fees, and copying fees. Copying fees will probably be your biggest expense.

FILING FEES

The court charges these fees for filing documents:

  • Notice of Appeal: $100.
  • Application for Allowance of Appeal: $10. If approved, you pay an additional $40 for the docketing fee.
  • Petition for Review: $100

Transcript fees: You will have to order transcripts of your DC Superior Court or agency proceeding. DC Superior Court or agency transcripts cost about $4 per page (Note: One full day of court proceedings may be hundreds of pages).

For more information, see the DC Appeals Court Schedule of Fees and Costs.

You can find fee information for all DC Superior Court divisions in Rule of Civil Procedure 202.

 

Request a Fee Waiver

Start Your Appeal