29 Nov 23

Meeting Strict Federal Appeal Filing Deadlines

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Last Updated on: 15th December 2023, 01:40 pm

Meeting Strict Federal Appeal Filing Deadlines

Filing an appeal in federal court can be tricky business—there’s lots of strict deadlines you gotta meet, or your appeal goes nowhere. Trust me, I learned this the hard way! My client lost his case in district court and wanted to appeal, but we blew the deadline for filing the notice of appeal. Case closed, no appeal for us. That was an embarrassing conversation to have with the client, let me tell ya.

So how do you make sure you file your federal appeal on time? I’ll walk ya through the basics here—the key deadlines, how to calculate ’em, what happens if you miss ’em, that kinda thing. We’ll keep it simple and conversational, just you and me talking deadlines over coffee.

Appeal as of Right vs. Appeal by Permission

First thing’s first—there’s two types of federal appeals: (1) Appeal as of Right, and (2) Appeal by Permission. An Appeal as of Right is when you appeal a final judgment—this has strict 30-day deadlines. An Appeal by Permission is when the judgment ain’t technically “final” yet under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)—here you gotta ask the appellate court for permission to appeal, and they might just say nope!

When’s a Judgment Final?

Good question! In a federal civil case, a judgment is usually final when the district court judge bangs his gavel and says “case dismissed.” Then you got 30 days to file your appeal notice. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Of course federal law has a whole definition of what counts as “final,” but I won’t bore ya with the nitty gritty details. Let’s just say if the judgment ends the case and leaves nothing else for the court to decide, ding ding ding—that’s final, baby. File your appeal notice within 30 days or you’ll be crying into your pillow at night.

Calculating Those 30 Days

Now this part can trip folks up—how exactly do you count that 30-day deadline to file your appeal notice? Do weekends and holidays count? Let me break it down real simple-like:

  1. Day 1 is the day after the final judgment entered.
  2. Yes, weekends and holidays count—the clock don’t stop ticking!
  3. You gotta file by 11:59pm local time on Day 30. Cutting it real close to midnight is just asking for trouble in my book.
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There’s a few other nitpicky rules about the 30 days, but if you remember those basics, you’ll be golden. Mark your calendar and file that appeal notice early, folks!

What if You Miss the Deadline?

Uh oh, someone overslept and missed the 30-day deadline! Before you panic, I’ve got some good news—you still might be able to file a late appeal notice if you meet certain requirements. There’s a few main options:

  1. File within 14 Extra Days – If another party on time filed an appeal notice, you get an extra 14 days to file yours. Not a bad deal!
  2. Ask to Reopen the Case – File a motion up to 180 days later asking the district court to reopen and give you another shot. These are rarely granted though.
  3. Claim Excusable Neglect – Argue you missed the deadline due to excusable neglect, mistake, etc. Also rarely works, but might be worth a shot.

Bottom line—don’t bank on these backup plans if you miss the 30-day deadline. Judges don’t take kindly to tardy appeal notices, so your options are super limited. Respect the deadline!

Other Appeal Deadlines to Know

The 30-day appeal notice deadline is just the first deadline you gotta deal with. Here’s some other key appeal deadlines:

  • File Appeal Brief – You get 40 days to file your main appeal brief, making your legal arguments.
  • File Reply Brief – After opposition brief is filed, you get 14 days to reply.
  • Petition for Rehearing – 14 days to ask appellate court to reconsider the appeal ruling.

And those are just a few! Moral of the story—appeals have more deadlines than a yearbook editor. So grab your calendar and a comfy seat, ’cause you’ll be scheduling a lot of dates with Lady Justice.

Appeal Deadlines Vary By Court

One last warning on appeal deadlines—they can vary depending on which federal court you’re in. For example:

  • U.S. Tax Court gives you 90-120 days to file the appeal notice, not the standard 30 days.
  • The Third Circuit Court of Appeals now has a strict 5:00pm deadline for all filings after July 1, 2023. Tick tock!

So ya always gotta double check the specific court rules on deadlines before filing your appeals. I know, so many rules—it’s like being back in school! But paying attention will serve you well, young grasshopper.

In Conclusion…

Federal appeals ain’t for the faint of heart—they involve a bunch of strict deadlines that ya gotta take seriously. Respect those deadlines and carefully calculate when filings are due. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lifeless appeal that goes nowhere—and nobody wants that!

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go calendar some appeal deadlines before I miss ’em again! Let me know if you have any other questions on federal appeals though, I could talk deadlines all day long, baby!