A Tale of Two… States! How Drastically Different Appellate Practice is Between MA and RI

KG headshotATTORNEY KATE GODIN represents both private and indigent clients in their criminal and/or sex offender appeals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

A Tale of Two… States!

Through her practice, she has noticed how different not only the rules and procedures are for appeals, but that two states can treat similarly situated appellate clients… differently.

In her practice (which is in two… States!), Kate has had several clients who may live in one state, but allegedly commit their criminal offense in the other state.  In fact, there are several areas in RI and MA where one has to drive into the other state in order to reach their final destination.

Being arrested in a state where you do not live impacts the court’s decision as to whether bail should be granted during the pendency of your trial and/or appeal.  For sex offenders, living, working and/or going to school in both states triggers registration requirements in both, and can be quite onerous to the offender.

Deadline To Appeal

From the deadline to appeal (which is 20 days in RI and 30 in MA), to the procedure for ordering the TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS, to the standards of review by the appellate courts (in RI, an appellate issue not properly raised during trial cannot be raised on direct appeal, except in extreme circumstances), to even how many appellate courts there are in the state, keeping track of how each system operates can be downright confusing. That is why it is important to retain an appellate attorney with the experience and knowledge of how your state’s appellate process operates.

What’s The Difference Between MA & RI?

A major difference involves how a criminal appellant goes about ordering the trial transcripts.  In MA, the trials in District Court are audio-recorded.  The first thing an appellate attorney should do when handling a criminal appeal is to make sure that the trial audio has been requested on a CD/DVD.

Once the audio CD is provided to the attorney, it must be given to a  certified transcriber to prepare the typewritten transcripts and when completed, transcripts will be sent to the appellate attorney to review for accuracy and then sent to the trial court.

Depending upon which transcriber you choose, this process can be quite lengthy.  Some transcribing companies will accept rush orders for more time-sensitive appeals.  That is why it is important to find a transcriber who works efficiently and is reliable (for Kate, that has been Office Solutions Plus LLC).***

It’s Easier In Massachusetts!

In Rhode Island, criminal cases appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court come from Superior Court, where there are court stenographers present during all court proceedings. The appellate attorney must determine which stenographers were present for all relevant court appearances in the client’s case, then contact each stenographer, get an estimate as to how much each court date will cost to transcribe, and provide a deposit to the Superior Court Administrator’s Office before the stenographers will begin transcribing the proceedings.

Furthermore, the transcribers will only transcribe matters in the order in which they were requested. Therefore, if an appeal is time-sensitive, there is little the appellate attorney can do to speed up this part of the process.  The stenographers will send the completed transcripts to the Supreme Court, at which time the appellate attorney must “check out” the transcripts in order to review and copy them.

This is a “Tale of Two States”… and how appellate practice is different between Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Contributor Kate Godin

Owns and operates her own law office, The Law Office of Katherine Godin, Inc., out of Warwick, Rhode Island.  She is licensed to practice in MA and RI state courts, United States District Courts in MA and RI, the First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. In addition to her law practice, Attorney Godin also advocates for criminal justice reform in Rhode Island as a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Rhode Island, and is a former national champion in both the high school hammer and weight throws.

Finale:  HAMMERS AND WEIGHTS–Kate mastered the 20-pound weight throw and the hammer throw in high school and at Penn State, competing against Olympians and even beat the 2000 Olympic gold medalist.  Trained at the US Olympic Training Center, she is a former high school record-holder and a NCAA finalist.  Just as she mastered two different weight throws and became a champion, she has mastered Criminal Law… in Two States. 

About Office Solutions Plus LLC – Owner and Author Elizabeth Tice

Liz Tice Headshot 6-6-14Elizabeth Tice has owned OfficeSolutionsPlusLLC.com since 2007 and achieved corporate growth of 250%. Special business offerings are state certified transcription, depositions, Open Meeting Law and Public Hearing transcripts, as well as summarized meeting minutes.


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