The Minefield of Appellate Practice: Notices of Appeal

by Wilson Elser

The Illinois Appellate Court’s recent opinion in In re Marriage of Micheli, 2014 IL App (2d) 121245 (filed July 31, 2014), illustrates the necessity of retaining appellate specialists to handle all post-trial and appellate filings, including the deceptively simple notice of appeal.

In Micheli, appellant John Micheli sought review of that portion of the trial court’s dissolution of marriage judgment imposing the amount and duration of spousal maintenance he was obligated to pay his ex-wife, appellee Ellen Micheli. In her cross-appeal, Ellen sought review of that portion of the judgment that required her to return to John a diamond in her engagement ring on the ground that the diamond was his non-marital property. Ellen’s notice of cross-appeal stated that she was appealing three separate paragraphs of the judgment pertaining to maintenance, stock options and attorney fees, but none of the identified paragraphs pertained to the diamond.

The appellate court found that it had no jurisdiction to consider Ellen’s cross-appeal vis-à-vis the diamond and accordingly dismissed it. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(b)(2) provides that a notice of appeal “shall” specify the judgment or part thereof sought to be reviewed. Because the filing of a notice of appeal is the jurisdictional step that initiates appellate review, it confers jurisdiction on a court of review to consider only the judgments or parts of judgments specified in it. Where a notice of appeal is filed improperly, the appellate court lacks jurisdiction over the matter and is obliged to dismiss the appeal. Applying these principles to Ellen’s notice of cross-appeal, the appellate court concluded that the notice sought reversal only of the three paragraphs identified in it and made no references to any other part of the judgment. The notice of cross-appeal was thus insufficient to vest the appellate court with jurisdiction to decide that part of Ellen’s cross-appeal pertaining to the diamond.

In reaching this conclusion, the appellate court considered – and rejected – Ellen’s three arguments for jurisdiction:

  • First, Ellen advanced the maxim that “a notice of appeal is to be liberally construed and will confer jurisdiction on an appellate court if the notice, when considered as a whole, fairly and adequately sets out the judgment complained of and the relief sought so that the successful party is advised of the nature of the appeal.” The appellate court acknowledged this principle, but found it inapplicable because Ellen’s notice of cross-appeal made no reference to any other portions of the judgment beyond the three specifically identified.
  • Second, Ellen argued that jurisdiction was appropriate based on the final sentence of her notice of cross-appeal, which stated that she “shall seek such other and further relief as she may be entitled to by this appeal.” The appellate court found that, “even liberally construing the notice as a whole, we do not find this general statement fairly and adequately set out the ruling complained of and the relief sought such that John was advised that Ellen wished to challenge the disposition of the diamond.” 
  • Finally, Ellen argued that a notice of appeal will confer jurisdiction over any order not specified in it if the unspecified order was a step in the procedural progression leading to the judgment or order that was specified in the notice of appeal. Again, the appellate court acknowledged that Ellen was correct as to the general principle, but found that the principle did not apply here because “the unspecified judgment must be a preliminary determination necessary to the ultimate relief sought by the appellant.” Here, the trial court’s ruling that the diamond is John’s non-marital property and the disposition awarding that property to him were not preliminary determinations necessary to the court’s judgment on the issues that Ellen specified in her notice of cross-appeal (maintenance, stock options and attorney fees), nor was it “sufficiently closely related” to the specified issues in any way.

Practice Point
This appellate opinion again demonstrates the necessity of retaining appellate specialists for post-trial and appellate work. Ellen’s attorney preserved his client’s right to cross-appeal three parts of the judgment in a notice of cross-appeal that the appellate court described as three pages long and detailed. However, Ellen’s right to review of the fourth part of the judgment – a part of the judgment that was evidently very important to her – was lost because it was not specified in the notice of cross-appeal. Micheli shows that, when it comes to appellate work, the devil is in the detail, and if any detail is missing you may find your appeal dismissed.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Wilson Elser | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Wilson Elser

Wilson Elser on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.