Designating the Record

In most civil appeals, you must designate the record on appeal. "Designating the record" means that you must let the superior court know what documents and oral proceedings, if any, to include in the record that will be sent to the appellate court.

Basically, there are 2 parts to the record for your appeal:

  1. A record of the documents filed in the trial court, and
  2. A record of the oral proceedings in the trial court.

You must designate the record (tell the superior court what documents and oral proceedings, if any, you want included in the record on appeal) within 10 days of filing the Notice of Appeal.

For certain types of juvenile appeals (dependency and delinquency), what is included in the record is set by the rules of court so you do not have to worry about designating the record.

Why the appellate court needs the record
Since the appellate court judges were not there for the trial court proceedings, an official record of what happened in the trial court needs to be prepared for the appellate court to review. The appellate court reviews this official record of what happened in trial court to see if the trial court made a legal mistake.

The record is a very important part of an appeal. Think of the record as a package that contains all of the information that the judges need to know about what happened in the trial court to review the case. You can only put into the package those items (like filings, transcripts, orders, motions, and minutes) that were part of the trial court proceedings.

And, when writing your brief and doing your oral argument, you can only refer to parts of the trial court proceedings that are included in this package. The contents of the record limits the issues and information that the parties can use in their arguments and that the appellate court will consider as it reviews the case. Anything in the record can be examined and considered. For the purpose of appellate review, any parts of the superior court trial that are not included in your designated record do not exist, will not be examined or considered by the appellate court, and cannot be used by either side to support their cases.

See the steps below to designate your record:


How to designate the record

For limited civil cases (civil cases involving an amount that is $25,000 or less), the appellant can use the Notice Designating Record on Appeal (Limited Civil Case) (Form APP-103) to designate the record, and the respondent can use the Respondent’s Notice Designating Record on Appeal (Limited Civil Case) (Form APP-110).

For unlimited civil cases (such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 or family law cases), the appellant can use the Appellant’s Notice Designating Record on Appeal (Unlimited Civil Case) (Form APP-003) to designate the record, and the respondent can use the Respondent’s Notice Designating Record on Appeal (Unlimited Civil Case) (Form APP-010).

For certain types of juvenile appeals (dependency and delinquency), what is included in the record is set by the rules of court so you do not have to worry about this step.

Choosing what to include in the record
There are certain documents that must be included in the record on appeal, like the trial court judgment or order that is being appealed. (See rule 8.832(a) of the California Rules of Court for the documents that must be included in the record on appeal in limited civil cases (civil cases involving an amount that is $25,000 or less) and rule 8.122(b) for the documents that must be included in appeals in unlimited civil cases (such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 or family law cases).) In most civil appeals, the parties choose (designate) what other things are included in the record. What you choose to include in the record depends on the issues that are being appealed. You need to think about the trial court proceedings, what rulings are being appealed, and what part of the record will best tell the appellate court about these rulings. Whether you are appealing or responding to an appeal, make sure the record includes all the information relevant to your position and the issues that the appellate court will review. These are the items you should designate for the record.

Talk to a lawyer if you need advice about what would be best in your case. Click for help to find a lawyer. Also, get more information about designating the record and where to get help.

Preparing a record of the documents

There are several ways in which a record of the documents filed in the trial court can be prepared for the appellate court.

For appeals of limited civil cases (civil cases involving an amount that is $25,000 or less), a record of the documents filed in the trial court can be prepared by using:


For appeals of unlimited civil cases (such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 or family law cases) a record of the documents filed in the trial court can be prepared by using:

  • A clerk's transcript,
  • An appendix under rule 8.124 of the California Rules of Court that includes copies of the documents that must be in a clerk's transcript and may include other documents that can be included in a clerk’s transcript,
  • The original trial court file, if the local rules allow it,
  • An agreed statement that includes copies of the documents that must be in a clerk's transcript and may include other documents that can be included in a clerk’s transcript, OR
  • If the trial court allows it, a settled statement that includes copies of the documents that must be in a clerk's transcript and may include other documents that can be included in a clerk’s transcript.

Preparing a record of oral proceedings

If you want to raise any issues on appeal that would require the appellate court to consider what was said (not just what documents were filed) in the trial court proceedings, the appellate court will need a record of these oral proceedings. If you choose not to provide the appellate court with a record of the oral proceedings, make sure you will not need any part of it to make your case. Without a record of the oral proceedings, you will not be able to refer to or use anything that was said in the trial court to support your argument on appeal.

There are several ways in which a record of what was said in the trial court can be prepared for the appellate court.

For appeals of limited civil cases (civil cases involving an amount that is $25,000 or less), you can prepare a record of what was said in the trial court by using:


For appeals of unlimited civil cases (such as civil cases involving an amount over $25,000 or family law cases), you can prepare a record of what was said in the trial court by using:

Mistakes in designating the record / Correcting an incomplete record / Augmenting the record

Mistakes in designating the record — Notice of default
If a party does not follow the California Rules of Court about getting (designating) the record on appeal, the trial court will send out a notice of default. A notice of default says that someone did not do what the California Rules of Court say to do. Usually, something relating to getting the record was not done on time or was done incorrectly, or a required deposit for the cost of the record was not made. The party that made the mistake has 15 days from the date the notice was mailed to fix the problem.

If the party that made the mistake relating to getting the record does not fix the problems within the 15 days, the superior court will notify the appellate court. If the appellant is the party that has not complied with the rules, the appellate court may dismiss the appeal. If the respondent is the party that has not complied on time, the appeal may go forward on the appellant's record alone.

Correcting an incomplete record
If you find out that the court clerk or court reporter left out a required or designated part of the record in the preparation of the clerk's or reporter's transcript, you must:

  1. Prepare and file a notice of correction with the superior court asking the superior court to prepare and send the item left out to the appellate court and all parties that received a copy of the record.
  2. Serve the notice of correction personally or by mail on all the parties and the appellate court.

If the reason the item is missing is that you did not list it in your designation of record, you will need to file a motion to augment the record.

Motion to augment the record
A motion to augment the record is a request to the appellate court to add new material to the record because you forgot to designate it or did not know at the time that you would need to.

Each item requested must be a part of the record in the superior court, like a document that was filed in the superior court; an exhibit received in evidence, refused, or lodged (temporarily placed) with the court; or a transcript or other record of oral proceedings. Any document or transcript that is available should be attached to the motion. If the appellate court grants the motion, it then augments its record with the documents or transcripts included with the motion.

After the record is prepared

Once the record preparation is completed, the record is sent to the appellate court. When the appellate court files the record on appeal, you will have to prepare your brief. Click to learn about briefs.

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