Mn Judicial Branch Logo
Find Court
    
   

Home > Appellate Courts > Court of Appeals > Court of Appeals Self-Help Center >

What if I Can't Afford an Appeal?- FAQs

How much does an appeal cost?

When are the filing fee and cost bond waived?

What is "in forma pauperis" relief?

How do I prove that I am entitled to in forma pauperis relief?

How do I request in forma pauperis relief?

How do I request "in forma pauperis" relief in an appeal from a criminal proceeding?

How much does an appeal cost?

In most civil cases, the appealing party must pay a filing fee of $550.

In addition, if there was a hearing or trial in the district court, a word-for-word written record of the arguments and testimony presented may be required. This is called a transcript, and the appealing party must pay the court reporter to prepare the transcript and pay for all the required copies.  The court reporter will file and deliver the transcript electronically, unless, within 10 days after the transcript certificate is filed, a party makes a written request that a paper transcript be provided to the party instead of an electronic copy.  A party may print out a paper copy of a transcript that is delivered electronically.

The appealing party will also have to pay for the copying, printing, and binding of his or her written arguments on appeal (called briefs). Formal, bound briefs are required unless the court grants a motion to submit briefs that are stapled instead of bound. A party may make a motion to the court of appeals for permission to file stapled briefs to avoid paying a printer to bind the briefs.

When is the filing fee waived?

No filing fee is required for certain types of appeals, including appeals from civil commitment proceedings under Minn. Stat. chapter 253B, public assistance appeals under Minn. Stat. chapter 256, or appeals from the denial of unemployment benefits under Minn. Stat. chapter 268 (Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 103.01, subd. 1). A filing fee also is not required for an appeal from an order in a criminal case ruling on a petition for postconviction relief under Minn. Stat. § 590.06.

No filing fee is required when the appealing party has been authorized to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal under Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 109. Even if you obtained an order allowing you to proceed in forma pauperis in district court, you must obtain a new order to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal; any order that allowed you to proceed in forma pauperis in district court will not apply to your appeal, even if your financial circumstances are the same.

What is "in forma pauperis" relief?

A party who cannot pay the expenses of the appeal may apply to the district court for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. If this relief is granted, the district court may waive the filing fee, and may require the state to pay the costs of preparing and printing the transcript. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 109.01. The district court administrator has forms to be used when applying for in forma pauperis relief related to an appeal.

How do I prove that I am entitled to in forma pauperis relief?

To proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, a party must establish with the district court that (a) he or she is indigent and (b) the appeal is not frivolous. To prove that a person is indigent, the district court will require proof that the person is receiving public assistance, is represented by legal aid or a volunteer attorney program based on low income, or does not have annual income in excess of 125% of the federal poverty guidelines (Minn. Stat. § 563.01, subd. 3). The federal poverty guidelines are based on total annual income and household size (number of people living together). The district court administrator's office usually has a chart showing the maximum income for a family of a specified size or may refer callers to the local public defender's office. The district court will usually require that the person seeking to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal fill out a "supplemental affidavit." The district court administrator has forms to be used when applying for in forma pauperis relief related to an appeal.

How do I request in forma pauperis relief?

In civil cases, the procedure for seeking in forma pauperis relief for appeal purposes is set out in Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 109.02. A motion to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal must be made to the district court judge or agency that issued the decision from which the appeal is taken, and it must be made at or before the time you file the appeal. Note that you must seek in forma pauperis status from the same judge who issued the decision you are appealing.

The motion must include (a) an affidavit showing the party's inability to pay and (b) a copy of the party's Form 133 statement of the case showing the issues that will be raised on appeal. The district court administrator has forms to be used when applying for supplemental in forma pauperis relief related to an appeal. Be sure to include a copy of the motion that was filed with the district court or agency with your appeal papers when you file the appeal with the Clerk of the Appellate Courts. The court of appeals will not rule on your motion, but needs to know that you have made that motion in the district court or agency.

In a civil case, a finding that the appealing party is indigent is not enough to allow in forma pauperis relief. The district court or agency must also find that the appeal is not frivolous. You do not have to prove that you will win on appeal, but your statement of the case must set out issues that will convince the district court, or the agency that handed down the decision, that the appeal has a sound basis and is not frivolous.

If the district court or agency denies your motion to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal, you may serve and file a motion in the court of appeals to review the order denying in forma pauperis status. These things must be done within 10 days of the order denying relief. You cannot give the court of appeals any new information about your income or the issues you will be raising that you did not give to the district court.  If you do not make a motion or if this court denies your motion, you must pay the $550 filing fee and, if a transcript has been ordered, file a completed transcript certificate certifying that financial arrangements have been made with the court reporter.

How do I request "in forma pauperis" relief in an appeal from a criminal proceeding?

An indigent defendant who is convicted of a felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor may be entitled to representation by the appellate public defender's office on appeal from a judgment of conviction or from an order denying postconviction relief. Even if the public defender's office is not required to represent the party, a determination by the public defender's office that the party is indigent may result in waiver of the filing fee and the public defender's office may pay transcript expenses. You should contact the appellate public defender’s office to ask if you are entitled to representation.

Office of the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender
540 Fairview Avenue North, Suite 300
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 201-6700