Basic Vocabulary of the Appellate Process

“Appellant”: The party seeking review by the Court of Appeals of a decision by a Washington State Superior Court.

“Brief”: The written presentation of argument on the merits of the appeal to the Court of Appeals, the form and contents of which are regulated by RAPs 10.3 and 10.4. Normally, Appellant’s Opening Brief is followed by Respondent’s Brief, which in turn is followed by Appellant’s Reply Brief.

“Motion”: A written presentation of argument to the Court of Appeals, typically on a subordinate matter such as a request for an extension of time or a request to strike part of an opponent’s brief (but see the discussion of “motions on the merits” below). Regulated by RAP 17.1 through RAP 17.7.

“Oral Argument”: The in-person presentation of arguments to either a panel of judges or a commissioner. The appellant goes first, followed by respondent, and appellant may make a concluding reply she has reserved part of her time for that purpose. There may be oral argument on motions as well as briefs. In most cases oral argument is dominated by questions from the judges or commissioner. See RAP 11.1 through RAP 11.4, and RAP 17.5.

“RAPs”: The Rules of Appellate Procedure, available on the web here.

“Respondent: the party defending a decision or action of a Washington State Superior Court against an appeal.

“Supersedeas Bond”: a bond posted with the trial court in order to stay the judgment creditor’s execution on the judgment during the pendency of the appeal.

Note: a much more comprehensive glossary of terms commonly used in the appeals process IN ALASKA is available here. Clearly, Washington is not Alaska, nor are the court systems in the two states identical! However, many of the terms in common use in the Washington States Court of Appeals are also used in the Alaskan Supreme Court, and the Alaskan glossary can be a useful place to start if you have a question about the definition of a term.


Still have questions?

Contact me at 253-414-5235