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Transcripts and Briefs

Designation of Transcripts

Since the appellate court was not present at the trial or other proceedings, there must be an official record of the proceedings for the court to review in assessing the appeal. In criminal appeals, the court will prepare the standard record as specified in the California Rules of Court, unless the trial judge has granted a request for additional items.

In civil appeals, the appellant must tell the trial court what documents and oral proceedings, if any, to include in the record that will be sent to the appellate court. This is done by filing a Judicial Council Notice Designating the Record on Appeal. The appellant's failure to file this notice may result in dismissal of the appeal. The respondent may also request documents by filing a Notice Designating the Record on Appeal; however, failure to do so will not affect the appeal.

Clerk's Transcript

The Clerk's Transcript is a compilation of the documents filed in the trial court. In criminal appeals, the Clerk's Transcript will include those documents required by the California Rules of Court. In civil appeals, you must designate each document you want included by its title and filing date. If the filing date is not known, the date the document was signed may be used instead.

The superior court clerk will send the parties a bill for the cost of preparing the Clerk's Transcript. The appellant is responsible for paying for the appellate court's copy as well as his own copy. The respondent may buy a copy of the transcript, but is not obligated to do so. Costs must be paid within 10 days or the appeal may be dismissed. (There is no charge for preparing the Clerk's Transcript in felony and death penalty appeals.)

Reporter's Transcript

A Reporter's Transcript is a written record (often called the "verbatim" record) of the oral proceedings in the trial court. A reporter's transcript is not required but is usually necessary. In felony and death penalty appeals, the Reporter's Transcript will include those hearing dates required by the California Rules of Court. In all other appeals, you must designate each date to be included.

With the notice designating the Reporter's Transcript, you must deposit the approximate cost of transcribing the proceedings designated. The cost of the Reporter's Transcript is $325 per fraction of a day for less than three hours of court time or $655 per day for more than three hours of court time.


A brief is a party's written description of the facts in the case, the relevant law, and the party's argument. The brief must clearly explain, using references to the Clerk's and Reporter's Transcripts, the claimed legal errors in the trial court proceedings.

After the record is filed in the appellate court, you will receive a notice telling you when to file your brief. Read the notice carefully for directions on length and service. The appellant's failure to file an opening brief may result in dismissal of the appeal.

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