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Court of Appeals Self-Help Center

The Minnesota Court of Appeals Self-Help Center answers some of the frequently asked questions about appeals and petitions to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Help Topics:

Standards of Review (PDF)

Special Term Opinion Subject Matter Index (PDF)

Important Question: Do I need to discuss my appeal with an attorney?

Appeals are usually very different from proceedings before a trial court, an administrative agency, or a child support magistrate: 

  • You must make all your arguments in writing.
  • You cannot present witnesses.
  • You cannot present new evidence. 
  • You can make arguments only about issues that:
    • you raised in the trial court or agency proceedings and 
    • were decided (ruled on) by the judge or other decision-maker. 
  • You usually cannot make new arguments on appeal. 

Most appeals do not focus on whether the trial judge or decision-maker correctly determined the facts of the case.  Instead, most appeals focus on the legal issues and whether the judge or decision-maker correctly applied the law after deciding any factual disputes.  You must do research, to see whether the trial court made legal errors that the Court of Appeals can correct.  Just because you are unhappy with the decision, or a decision contains some minor mistakes, that does not mean that it is legally wrong. 

If you lose on appeal in a civil case, you may be ordered to pay the opposing party's costs and disbursements (such as brief printing and copying charges).  If the court finds that your appeal is frivolous, or was taken for improper purposes, such as harassment of another party, you could be ordered to pay double costs and/or attorney fees.  It is important to consider these potential costs when deciding whether or not to file an appeal.

This Self-Help Center is a general guide to appellate procedures, but there are many different types of cases and many exceptions to the rules explained here.  You are responsible for researching court rules, caselaw, and statutes that govern your case and for evaluating whether there is any reason to appeal in your case.

Court staff must be neutral and cannot give you legal advice about your case. This means that they cannot help you fill out papers, discuss the merits of your case, or tell you if you will win or lose.  The information you get from this site or from your discussions with court staff cannot replace legal advice from an attorney.  You are strongly encouraged to discuss your appeal or petition with an attorney.  There are organizations that can help you find an attorney, including the Minnesota State Bar Association (click on "find a lawyer"). You can also check out the Minnesota Judicial Branch Self-Help Center, which focuses on district court (trial) matters.

The Minnesota Judicial Branch makes no endorsement or warranty of quality of services by linking to an outside organization from this Website.

Clerk of Appellate Courts
305 Minnesota Judicial Center
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone:  (651) 296-2581
Counter Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays