Changes to Notices of Appeal

On December 1, 2021, several welcome amendments to Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure will take effect (barring highly unlikely Congressional action). These changes clarify and simplify the requirements for notices of appeal.

First, the amendments make clear that a notice of appeal encompasses all interlocutory orders that merge into the designated judgment or appealable order. Appellants need not specifically designate such interlocutory orders in the notice.

Those provisions eliminate a waiver trap that some courts had created by holding that an appellant’s designation of certain interlocutory orders in the notice of appeal excluded review of undesignated orders. The amendments provide that designations of specific orders will not limit the scope of the notice of appeal without an express statement that the notice is so limited.

Second, the amendments make clear that a notice encompasses the final judgment when it identifies a final order that resolves all remaining claims or an order that resolves a post-judgment motion. That change removes waiver traps that had developed based on Rule 3’s prior requirement that a notice designate the “judgment.”

Some courts had held that where an appellant described a final order as an “order” rather than a “judgment,” the notice was limited to that order, excluding review of interlocutory orders that merged into the judgment. Likewise, some courts treated a notice of appeal that designated only an order disposing of a post-judgment motion as limited to that order, excluding review of the judgment itself. The amendments eliminate both traps.

While the amendments reflect the law that already governed in many jurisdictions, they are still a welcome change. The amendments eliminate ambiguity that had caused problems in certain jurisdictions and provide clarity for practitioners.

District Courts Can Extend Time to File Notices of Appeal Beyond Time Allowed in the Federal Rules

The Supreme Court issued its first opinion of the October 2017 sitting, Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, No. 16-658, 2017 WL 5160782 (Nov. 8, 2017), early last month. We previously previewed this case when the Supreme Court first granted a writ of certiorari.[1] As expected, the Supreme Court clarified an important issue regarding time limits for filing notices of appeal in civil cases. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that district courts are allowed to extend the time for filing a notice of appeal beyond the thirty-day limit prescribed in the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure because the deadline is only set by court rule, not statute, and thus is not jurisdictional.

The Supreme Court used Hamer to resolve a circuit split over whether Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(C) is jurisdictional or whether it is a mandatory claim-processing rule. Jurisdictional time limits “deprive[] a court of adjudicatory authority over the case, necessitating dismissal—a ‘drastic’ result.” Hamer, slip op. at 2 (citing Henderson v. Shinseki, 562 U.S. 428, 435 (2011)). These time limits are “not subject to waiver or forfeiture and may be raised at any time in the court of first instance and on direct appeal.” Id. at 2-3 (footnote omitted) (citing Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443, 455 (2004)). Indeed, courts are independently obligated to consider jurisdictional timeliness rules, even when not raised by either party. Id. at 3 (citing Shinseki, 562 U.S. at 434). Mandatory claim-processing rules, by contrast, can be waived or forfeited if a party fails to object to an untimely filing. Id. However, “[i]f properly invoked, mandatory claim-processing rules must be enforced.” Id. (citing Manrique v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1266, 1271-72 (2017)). Continue reading “District Courts Can Extend Time to File Notices of Appeal Beyond Time Allowed in the Federal Rules”

How to Appeal a Sanctions Order

Can a lawyer obtain appellate review of a sanctions order by piggy-backing on her client’s notice of appeal? The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit raised this question sua sponte in a decision issued on March 26, 2014, In re Joannie Plaza-Martinez.

A federal public defender appealed a sanctions order against her as well as her client’s sentence in a single notice of appeal. The notice of appeal was “unarguably proper” as to the client. Whether it was also proper as to the public defender’s appeal of the sanction order was “an unresolved jurisdictional question.”

Continue reading “How to Appeal a Sanctions Order”