If you are found guilty in Municipal Court and assessed a fine, and you want to appeal your case, you must complete a minimum of three steps:
The Appeal Bond must be filed not later than 10 days after you are found guilty and assessed a fine in your case.
The law requires that at the same time you file your Appeal Bond, you pay to the Clerk of the Municipal Court a $25.00 Appellate Court Docket Fee. This fee is only refundable to you if the Appellate Court reverses the Trial Court’s decision. Otherwise, it is retained in addition to any other fine or court costs assessed against you.
If you are unable to pay the docketing fee, the Appellate Court can waive that requirement. To receive a waiver you must sign an affidavit that you are unable to pay and you must prove that inability at a hearing set by the Appellate Court.
The Appeal Bond must be at least $ 100.00 or double the amount of the fine and cost assessed against you, whichever is greater, and must state that the Defendant was convicted in the case and has appealed, and be conditioned on the Defendant's immediate and daily personal appearance in the court to which the appeal is taken.
A Statement of Facts is the court reporter’s transcription of notes taken at the trial before the Municipal Court. In order to have the court reporter record the proceedings at the trial court, you, the prosecutor, or the trial judge must have requested that it be done. If no request was received from you and no request was made by the prosecutor or the judge, no Statement of Facts would have been recorded at trial. If you did request a Statement of Facts and you would like it to be prepared and included in the record on appeal, you must file a written notice so requesting with the Municipal Court Clerk at the time you file your Appeal Bond.
You have the responsibility of ordering the transcription from the court reporter and filing it with the Appellate Court Clerk in duplicate not later than the 30th day after the Appeal Bond is filed. The Municipal Court Clerk’s Office can assist you in determining the name and phone number of the court reporter who served at your trial. You must make your own arrangements to pay the Court Reporter for preparation of the Statement of Facts since it is ordered at your own expense.
The Appellate Court has held numerous occasions that it cannot address questions relating to the factual or legal sufficiency of the evidence without a Statement of Facts. If those are the types of errors you are raising on appeal, it is essential that you have a Statement of Facts that shows what evidence was actually introduced so the Appellate Court can provide you with a meaningful appeal.
No, not necessarily. Even with a Statement of Facts, the Appellate Court must review the evidence that was submitted to the Trial Judge, and determine whether the Trial Court’s decision is supported by factual and legal evidence, and, if it is, it will uphold the Trial Court’s judgment.
You are required to file a brief with the Appellate Court Clerk. Your brief should set out the reasons you think the Trial Court was in error in its decision, and give any legal authorities which support your position to the Appellate Court. Although there are specific requirements for the contents of a brief, the Court accepts briefs in letter form. Be sure that your brief in legible, preferably typewritten, and submitted in English or with a translation of your brief into English.
Your brief is due no later than 10 days after the filing of your Appeal Bond unless you have requested that the record on appeal contain a Statement of Facts. If so, it is due no later than the 10th day after the Statement of Facts is filed with the Appellate Court. If you file your written request for a Statement of Facts but you do not follow through on filing the Statement of Facts within 30 days after the Appeal Bond is filed, then your Brief is due 30 days after the Appeal Bond is filed with the Municipal Court.
If you fail to file your brief as required, the Appellate Court will notify you that it intends to dismiss your appeal for such failure, and provide you a time limit in which to cure that omission. Failure to do so will result in dismissal of your appeal.
The statement of facts and your brief need to be filed with the Appellate Court Clerk at the City Clerk’s Office for the City of El Paso, located on the second floor of City Hall. The mailing address of the City Clerk is:City Clerk’s Office
300 N. Campbell
El Paso, Texas 79901
Attention: City Clerk
Once your appeal is perfected, and docketed by the Appellate Court, a docket number will be assigned to that case and you will be notified. Please include that docket number on any further correspondence or documents filed with the Appellate Court.
You do have a right to hire an attorney to represent you in regard to all proceedings in Municipal Court because they are of a criminal nature, and if you are found guilty, a fine, in most cases up to $500 , can be assessed. In some instances the fine can be even more than that. However, since no jail time is provided for in Class C misdemeanors over which Municipal Courts have jurisdiction, and they are considered, "fine only offenses", you do not have a right to have a court appointed attorney to represent you even if you are indigent.
You no longer have a right to present oral argument to the Appellate Court, but upon your request for oral argument, the Appellate Court can, in it's discretionary authority, grant oral argument if it believes that it would assist in the decision making process relating to the case; otherwise, the case will be decided based on the Briefs filed by the parties and the law applicable to the case.
No. Appeals before the El Paso Municipal Court of Appeals are not "de novo" proceedings. The appeal is not an opportunity to retry the case before a different judge The Court will not rehear the evidence presented at trial. An appeal is an opportunity to determine whether or not the trial judge applied the law properly to the evidence that was presented in your case. The Appellate Court will review the record of the case and decide whether or not an error in the application of the law was made.
The Appellate Court can:
After oral argument is heard, or in a case where the Appellate Court determines oral argument is unnecessary, a written decision will be issued by the Appellate Court. You will receive a copy in the mail. If the decision is to affirm the trial court’s conviction, you also will receive a mandate in the mail.
If the Appellate Court affirms the Trial Court’s decision, you have a right to file a Motion for Rehearing within 10 days after the day the decision is delivered.
A decision of the Appellate Court becomes final 15 days after rendering its decision or after overruling the Motion for Rehearing, if one is filed. Generally, that is the final stage of the appeal, although a limited right of appeal is provided to the Court of Appeals if the fine assessed against you in the Municipal Court exceeded $100.00, or if you are contesting the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance on which your conviction is based.
The Act creating the Municipal Court of Appeals is the El Paso Courts Act, Texas Government Code, Section 30.00121, et seq., available in most law libraries. Although the information in these Frequently Asked Questions addresses some of the most important features of that Act, it is by no means intended to be exhaustive of the subject, and it may be advisable for you to refer to that Act to answer any additional questions that you may have. A copy of the Act is available for your inspection either either at the Municipal Court Clerk’s Office or at the City Clerk’s Office. In addtion,
Texas statutes, including a copy of the El Paso Courts of Record Act, may be obtained on line at www.capitol.state.tx.us under Texas Statutes Government Code Chapter 30, Section 30.00121.
TIMETABLE WHERE NO STATEMENT OF FACTS IS REQUIRED:
DATE OF CONVICTION
FILE APPEAL BOND
TIMETABLE WHERE STATEMENT OF FACTS IS REQUESTED:
DATE OF CONVICTION
FILE APPEAL BOND
FILE STATEMENT OF FACTS
Many people represent themselves at their appeal, as "pro se". However, if, after reading this guide and after reviewing the El Paso Municipal Courts of Records Act, you need more assistance, it may be advisable to seek the advice of an attorney. Please understand that the staff of El Paso Municipal Court is prohibited from giving you legal advice, including assisting you in the preparation of your brief. The staff also is prohibited from recommending specific attorneys to you.
You need to know that the law says that if you represent yourself you are held to the same standard as an attorney. Saying that you did not know or understand applicable laws will not be helpful to you.
The subject index of appellate cases can be found on this web site under Subject Index: Court of Appeals Cases. This index can to be used to identify cases which pertain to the issues you are raising in your appeal. Copies of the decisions can be be obtained through the City Clerk's Office, # 300 N. Campbell, El Paso, Texas 79901