Appeal is the process by which one of the parties to a case asks a higher court to review the decision of a lower court. Courts of appeal do not hold a new trial or take new evidence, but instead review the record of the case and decisions of lower courts or administrative agencies to determine if those decisions were legally correct.
In Montana, district court cases may be appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, which is the highest court in Montana and the final court of appeals. For city and justice court decisions, appeals may be made to district court.
The appellate process involves numerous rules and important deadlines regarding documents and procedures. Those rules, called the Montana Rules of Appellate Procedure, were written by the Montana Supreme Court. These rules must be followed by anyone filing an appeal, petition or motion with the Supreme Court.
The Montana Supreme Court also wrote a Civil Handbook, for people who are representing themselves in a civil appeal from a district court ruling to the Supreme Court. It does not cover appeals of decisions from justice court to a district court or from an administrative agency to a district court. Moreover, the handbook should not be used in any criminal case.
Link to the Civil Handbook: Proceeding before the Montana Supreme Court without an Attorney for more information. This 87-page resource provides an overview of the appellate process with the Supreme Court and includes useful tables, forms and a glossary of legal terms.