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An appeal filing deadline prescribed by statute will be regarded as “jurisdictional,” meaning that late filing of the appeal notice necessitates dismissal of the appeal. But a time limit prescribed only in a court-made rule is not jurisdictional; it is, instead, a mandatory claim-processing rule subject to forfeiture if not properly raised by the appellee.
Petitioner Charmaine Hamer filed an employment discrimination suit against respondents. The District Court granted respondents' motion for summary judgment, entering final judgment on September 14, 2015. Before October 14, the date Hamer's notice of appeal was due, her attorneys filed a motion to withdraw as counsel and a motion for an extension of the appeal filing deadline to give Hamer time to secure new counsel. The District Court granted both motions, extending the deadline to December 14, a two-month extension, even though the governing Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure, Rule 4(a)(5)(C), confined such extensions to 30 days. Concluding that Rule 4(a)(5)(C)’s time prescription was jurisdictional, the Court of Appeals dismissed Hamer’s appeal.
Was the Rule 4(a)(5)(C)’s time prescription jurisdictional?
The Court vacated the judgment, holding that the 30-day time limit under Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5)(C) on an extension for filing a notice of appeal was erroneously treated as jurisdictional, resulting in dismissal of an appeal that was filed pursuant to a two-month extension to permit substitution of counsel. According to the Court, the 30-day limit was not jurisdictional but was instead a mandatory-claims processing rule because it lacked a statutory basis, as 28 U.S.C.S. § 2107 did not speak to extensions for reasons other than lack of notice of the entry of judgment. The case was remanded.