Throughout my fifteen years as appellate counsel in the Pennsylvania office of Counsel Press, a common question arising in Superior Court proceedings is the purpose of the docketing statement. This is a form document sent by the Superior Court after a notice of appeal has been filed, which must to be completed and returned within ten days. Under Pa. R.A.P. 3517, its stated purpose is to enable the Court to “more efficiently and expeditiously administer the scheduling of argument and submission of cases on appeal.” What does that mean? In short, it is a general information worksheet designed to help the Court answer the following:
- Is jurisdiction proper?
Was the notice of appeal taken from a final, appealable order under Pa. R.A.P. 301? Was it taken from a collateral order under Rule 313? Is the appeal interlocutory, either by right, under Rule 311, or by permission? The answer helps the Court determine whether the appeal can proceed or if it should be quashed.
- Was the transcript duly ordered (and paid for)?
- Are there any related cases?
This informs the Court if the case is a cross-appeal under Pa. R.A.P. 2136, or if two or more cases could eventually be consolidated.
- What are the primary issues raised on appeal?
This enables the Superior Court to determine whether the case is ripe for mediation.
- Are the case caption and parties of record, as entered on the docket, proper?
This relates to issues that often arise among appellants. In assigning the docket number for a new case on appeal, the Superior Court obtains all relevant information from the notice of appeal (case caption, parties and attorneys of record, the date of the order appealed from). When filing their opening brief and reproduced record, appellants are sometimes forced to serve unnecessary parties (i.e., parties to the lower court action that have nothing to do with the appeal) because they were over-inclusive in listing parties in their notice of appeal. Similarly, the case caption is not always conveyed to the Court accurately through the notice of appeal. The docketing statement provides an easy way to remedy such mistakes soon after they are made.
Though the Docketing Statement may seem like redundant paperwork, it serves an important purpose for the Court’s administration of your appeal. As such, it must be filed; failure to do so will result in the eventual dismissal of your appeal under Pa. R.A.P. 3517.
If you would like more information on appellate practice in Pennsylvania, please contact staff counsel at Counsel Press. You may also visit our website for links to rules and forms here.