Can parties join a case at the appeals stage?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Even an appeal is not exclusive. In order to ensure court efficiency and equal handed decisions, the court allows parties to join in even at the appeals stage where necessary. There are two different scenarios where people may join in appeals: amicus curiae and joinder.
Understanding Amicus Curiae

A party who files under amicus curiae is interested only in adding their own argument to boost an existing party. Briefs for amicus curiae are typically done in cases of extreme social importance. Examples of appropriate briefs include unsolicited testimony, unsolicited expert advice, or a learned treatise on the topic.

The idea behind an amicus curiae brief is that the person filing is a “friend of the court” whose only purpose is to help the judges come to the right decision. The best explanation of amicus curiae comes from the 1968 case Allen v. Sir Alfred McAlpine & Sons Ltd and states, “I had always understood that the role of an amicus curiae was to help the court by expounding the law impartially, or if one of the parties were unrepresented, by advancing the legal arguments on his behalf.”

Joinder Requirements and Rules

Under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, parties may also join a case at the appeal stage. Unlike the amicus curiae brief, a joinder to an appeal becomes an active and interested party awaiting a chance to argue and a new decision. Under Section II Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, there are two ways that a party may be joined in an appeals case:

  1. When two or more parties are entitled to appeal from a district-court judgment or order, and their interests make joinder practicable, they may file a joint notice of appeal. They may then proceed on appeal as a single appellant.
  2. When the parties have filed separate timely notices of appeal, the appeals may be joined or consolidated by the court of appeals.

Getting Help

If you are interested in joining in on an existing appeal, consult with an appellate attorney or litigation lawyer to determine your rights. 

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