How to File an Appeal without a Lawyer by using http://www.efilema.com/
In 2021 I appealed on my own a Housing court case. The appeals court dismissed the case saying that I no longer have standing because the tenant had left so the case is moot. I don’t think I have no standing but having an attorney would not have changed the Appeals Court decision unless the Appeals court has one standard for looking at mootness cases if you don’t have an attorney and applies a different standard if you have an attorney. I guess anything is possible.
Now that I know how to do it I will continue filing appeals any time I feel the judge is wrong. But generally speaking appealing on your own is a knife that cuts both ways because on one hand you save the $5000 (or maybe more) attorney fee but on the other side because you are less experienced than an attorney sometimes depending on what arguments you make or not know to make in front of the Appeals Court, you might create some negative precedent for all landlords not just for you. That being said on the whole I believe that landlords should appeal more often with or without lawyers rather than turning the other cheek. Freedom is not free.
I am publishing this simplified step-by-step guide on how I successfully filed an Appeal without a lawyer using myself as a guinea pig so you can also file an Appeal without a lawyer:
1. After the Housing Court Judgment you have 10 days to file a Notice of Appeal. Here is the form – Notice of Appeal (or if you file a Motion to Reconsider you have 10 days to file it and then 10 days after it’s denied to file the Notice of Appeal).
2. Then order the transcripts here – https://www.mass.gov/how-to/order-a-court-proceeding-transcript. You will be asked to pay half now and half when done.
3. After they are done and emailed to you, go e-file them by selecting Filing Code “Transcript of Hearing”. Just attach the PDFs.
4. After the Housing Court notifies you that the record has been assembled you need to file Filing Code “Civil Appeal Entry Form”. Here is the form. You will be given a new Appeals Court docket number different from the Housing Court number soon after you file.
6. After your Docketing Statement has been accepted you need to e-file your Brief and your Appendix.
They need to be filed as two separate filings.
The Brief is where you tell the Appeals Court why you think the lower court judge was wrong. The Brief needs to be one PDF. Here is my Brief that was accepted by the Appeals Court – My BRIEF. There are many formatting rules to follow but if you follow my forms EXACTLY to the letter without changing any formatting you should be covered! All sections and subsections should be there, do not remove anything. They denied my filings several times until I got it exactly formatted the way they wanted. For example the Brief needs to be double-spaced. If you need more instructions go to https://www.mass.gov/guides/electronic-filing-at-the-appeals-court.
The Appendix also needs to be one PDF. Here is MY Appendix Form that was accepted – My APPENDIX first page and table of contents. All the documents that you want the Appeals Court to consider need to be included here and all pages numbered. The Appendix needs to contain the lower court Docket, printouts of any laws you use to support your Brief, the Judgment, the Motion to Reconsider if any, the Lease, the Transcripts and anything else you want the Appeals Court to consider. Please arrange them from oldest to most recent. You can go to https://tools.pdf24.org/en to combine these PDFs into one big file and to re-number its pages for free. My Appendix was 74 pages.
Here are some helpful links: https://www.mass.gov/guides/appeals-court-frequent-appellate-process-questions.
7. With e-filing you pay a $300 filing fee.
8. You will either receive a rejection notice in your email with instructions on what needs fixing or your Appeal will be accepted. There was a number you could call and the person from the Appeals Court Office was very helpful. (Unlike the “customer support” staff of the Housing Court).
9. You wait for the wise Appeals Court decision in 10 months to a year.