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The End of the Appeal

When does the appeal end?

The appeal is over when the Supreme Court issues its written decision. At that time, the Supreme Court will also decide which party pays the costs and fees.

What is the Supreme Court’s decision called?

Supreme Court decisions come in 2 forms:

  1. Slip opinions
  2. MOJs

These are both final decisions that end the case. The only difference between them is that opinions are published in the official Reporters and MOJs are not.

What do the decisions say?

The Supreme Court decision will summarize the facts of the case and the Superior Court proceedings. It will state the issues on appeal and discuss both parties’ arguments. It will state a ruling that discusses the Court’s decision on the issues and:

How does the Supreme Court decide who wins on appeal?

The justices read all of the appeal briefs that the parties file and listen to the oral arguments if they happen. They meet, discuss the case, and vote on the outcome. When all or a majority of the justices agree on the outcome, one of the justices writes an opinion. They base their opinion on their interpretation of the relevant statutes and case law that apply to the issues in the appeal. The opinion tells the parties what their rights and obligations are regarding the issues on appeal.

What if the justices disagree?

If a minority of the Supreme Court justices disagrees, a justice may write a dissenting opinion. This is a separate opinion that states the viewpoint of the justices who do not agree with the majority. It is printed with the majority opinion.

What is a concurring opinion?

This is an opinion which is written in addition to the majority opinion when at least one of the justices agrees with the outcome the majority reached, but for different reasons. A case may have one or more concurring opinions.

Which opinion should the parties follow?

The majority opinion is the only opinion which tells the parties what their rights and obligations are regarding the issues on appeal.

How long will it take for the court to issue a decision on the appeal?

Usually the Supreme Court issues a slip opinion or MOJ within 8 - 15 months after oral argument. However, if the case is complicated or the justices don’t agree on the outcome, it may take longer. The decision may be faster if the case is heard on an expedited basis because it is a special case type.

When are opinions and MOJs issued?

Slip opinions are issued Fridays after 12:30 p.m. and are available on the court’s website until they are published in the Reporters. The Pacific Reporter or the Alaska Reporter is available at most Alaska Court System law libraries and some public libraries.

MOJs are issued Wednesday mornings, and posted on the court’s website for informational purposes. MOJs are available on court’s website for three months. You can get older MOJs from the Appellate Clerk’s Office.

Will the Appellate Clerk’s Office notify you when the case is over?

Yes. The Appellate Clerk’s Office will call you on Friday morning before 12:30 when the decision is issued publicly. You will also receive a copy in the mail. Make sure the Clerk’s Office has your current telephone number and mailing address.

The Appellate Clerk’s Office offers an appellate slip opinion notification service: the ak-slip-opinions listserv. Each week subscribers receive a message providing a list of the appellate court opinions and MOJs that week. The message includes the case type and a link to the PDF version of the document posted on the court’s website. You can sign up for this free notification service by simply entering your email address, selecting "Join" and clicking "Submit Request."

What can you do if you don’t like the Supreme Court’s decision?

The Supreme Court’s decision is the end of the case because it is the highest court in Alaska.

In very limited situations, you may petition for rehearing with the Supreme Court under Appellate Rule 506. The Court rarely grants a petition for rehearing. It will deny your petition if you just reargue the same issues again and if the Court already considered fully the issues.

In extremely rare situations, you may be able to appeal from the Alaska Supreme Court to the United States Supreme Court. To understand if this is possible, you should speak to an attorney.

Does the loser have to pay the other side’s costs?

Usually. The general rule in Alaska is that the losing party pays the winning party’s costs and fees. There are exceptions to this rule depending on the type of appeal. If the Supreme Court affirms the decision of the Superior Court, the appellant loses and pays the appellee’s costs and fees. If the Supreme Court reverses the Superior Court’s decision, the appellee loses and pays the appellant’s costs and fees. Appellate Rule 508 discusses costs. Depending on who wins, the costs may include:

How do you get the other side to pay the costs and fees?

When you receive the Supreme Court decision (opinion or MOJ) there will be an "Order for Fees and Costs" stapled to the decision. Sometimes the order states that each side pays their own costs and fees. However, the order may say that the winning party has 10 days from the date of the notice of the opinion or MOJ to file a Bill of Costs that lists all the costs and verifies what they were. If the Supreme Court awarded you costs, file

Attach receipts for the different costs and fees you want the other side to pay. You need to sign in front of either a notary or the clerk at your local court and show them your driver’s license. Make 2 copies of the Bill of Costs form and any attachments. Send 1 copy to the other side (or their attorney). Keep 1 copy for your records.

If you do not file the Bill of Costs within 10 days, you may waive your right to get the costs paid. This means you will not be able to get the other side to pay your costs.

What if you disagree with the Bill of Costs?

You can file an objection within 7 days after being served with the Bill of Costs.

When do you find out the final amount of the costs?

Promptly after the time to file an objection has expired, the Appellate Clerk’s Office will issue an itemized award of costs. At that time, the person who is supposed to pay the costs should pay the other side.

What happens to the cost bond that was paid when the appeal was started?

If the appellant paid $750 for a cost bond and won the appeal, the Appellate Clerk’s Office will send the money back to the appellant. The appellee has to pay the appellant’s costs.

If the appellee won the appeal, the Appellate Clerk’s Office will send a check to the appellee for their costs in the appeal. This check will come from the appellant’s cost bond. If the appellee’s costs were more than the cost bond amount of $750, the appellant must pay the additional amount. If the appellee’s costs were less than the cost bond amount, the Appellate Clerk’s Office will send the appellant the difference.


Rev. 27 December 2011
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