The City of Sugar Land Municipal Court is a “Court of Record.”   Appeals from a Court of Record are based on a defect in the application of law during a Bench or Jury Trial.  When appealing a case from a Court of Record, the appeal is NOT a re-trial.  The case will be heard by the higher court from a transcription.  The basic steps for an appeal at the Sugar Land Municipal Court of Record are listed below:

Motion for New Trial

  • The defendant or his/her attorney must file a motion for a new trial.
  • The Judge will make a ruling on the motion for new trial.  
    • If the motion is denied, and the defendant wishes to appeal, the defendant must give notice of the appeal in writing.         
      • The written notice of the appeal must be submitted to the Municipal Court within 10 days after the motion for new trial is overruled.
      • An appeal bond, set at the time of judgement, must accompany the written notice.
    • If the defendant requests a hearing for the motion for new trial, the notice of appeal may be given in open court.

Appeal Bond

  • The appeal bond must be paid at the time the written notice to appeal is submitted for Judge’s approval.
  • The appeal bond is set at the time of judgement, it may be for $100 or twice the total amount of the fines, costs, and fees whichever is greater (however, the Judge may determine whether the surety is sufficient).

The Record

  • Once the motion for appeal is approved, the defendant must order a Reporter’s Record (transcript of the trial) to be submitted to appellate court. 
  • The defendant must pay the cost for an actual transcript of the proceedings and for the reporter’s record.
    • A $75 deposit is required, actual costs will be communicated prior to ordering the record.
    • The cost is usually $5 per page and $10 for binding
    • The preparation of the record may take several weeks
  • The Municipal Court Judge must approve the record and will promptly file the approved record with the appellate court once approved.

The Appellate Court

  • The Reporter’s Record will be filed with the appellate court who will review the record of the case and decide whether or not an error in the application of law was made.  
  • The case will not be re-tried. 
  • The outcomes possible are listed below:
    • The higher court may affirm the trial court’s decision.
      • The trial court’s decision stands.
      • The defendant must pay the fine and court costs assessed.
    • The higher court may reverse the trial court’s decision for a new trial.
      • The case is remand for a new trial.
      • The new trial will be at the trial court level.
    • The higher court may reverse the trial court’s decision and find for the defendant.
      • A decision may be rendered in the favor of the defendant.
      • The trial court will be directed to enter a judgement of acquittal.
  • One should allow 15 days for the appellate court to respond with the findings of the appeal.