Bowles v. Russell

551 U.S. 205, 127 S. Ct. 2360 (2007)



The time limits for filing a notice of appeal are jurisdictional in nature.


The inmate failed to file an appeal within 30 days of the district court's final judgment as required under Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A) and 28 U.S.C.S. § 2107(a). Under § 2107(c) and Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(6), the district court was permitted to extend the filing period for 14 days from the day a motion to reopen was granted, but the district court gave the inmate 17 days to file his notice of appeal. Although the inmate's notice of appeal was filed within the 17-day period authorized by the district court, it was filed after the 14-day period allowed by Rule 4(a)(6) and 28 U.S.C.S. § 2107(c).


Was the 14-day limit on the appeal mandatory?




The Supreme Court found that the 14-day limit on the length of the reopening period was imposed by statute and was therefore mandatory and jurisdictional; the limitation under § 2107(c) was not merely a claim-processing rule. Use of the "unique circumstances" doctrine under Harris Truck Lines, Inc. v. Cherry Meat Packers, Inc., 371 U.S. 215 (1962), and Thompson v. INS, 375 U.S. 384 (1964), was declared to be illegitimate, and those cases were overruled to the extent that they purported to authorize an exception to a jurisdictional rule.

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