Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago,
583 U.S. ___ (2017)

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Justia Opinion Summary

Hamer filed an employment discrimination suit. The district court granted the defendants 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 and for an extension of the appeal filing deadline to give Hamer time to secure new counsel. The court granted a two-month extension, even though Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure, 4(a)(5)(C), confines such extensions to 30 days. Concluding that Rule 4(a)(5)(C)’s time prescription is jurisdictional, the Seventh Circuit dismissed Hamer’s appeal. A unanimous Supreme Court vacated. Rule 4(a)(5)(C)’s limitation on extensions of time to file a notice of appeal is a court-made rule and not jurisdictional. It is a mandatory claim-processing rule that may be waived or forfeited. If a time prescription governing the transfer of adjudicatory authority from one Article III court to another appears in a statute, the limitation is jurisdictional; otherwise, the time specification fits within the claim-processing category.

  • Syllabus  | 
  • Opinion (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321 .

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

HAMER v. NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSING SERVICES OF CHICAGO et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit

No. 16–658. Argued October 10, 2017—Decided November 8, 2017

An appeal filing deadline prescribed by statute is considered “jurisdictional,” meaning that late filing of the appeal notice necessitates dismissal of the appeal. See Bowles v. Russell, 551 U. S. 205 –213. In contrast, a time limit prescribed only in a court-made rule is not jurisdictional. It is a mandatory claim-processing rule that may be waived or forfeited. Ibid. This Court and other forums have sometimes overlooked this critical distinction. See Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 559 U. S. 154 .

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), confines such extensions to 30 days. Concluding that Rule 4(a)(5)(C)’s time prescription is jurisdictional, the Court of Appeals dismissed Hamer’s appeal.

Held: The Court of Appeals erred in treating as jurisdictional Rule 4(a)(5)(C)’s limitation on extensions of time to file a notice of appeal. Pp. 5–10.

(a) The 1948 version of 28 U. S. C. §2107 allowed extensions of time to file a notice of appeal, not exceeding 30 days, “upon a showing of excusable neglect based on failure of a party to learn of the entry of the judgment,” but the statute said nothing about extensions when the judgment loser did receive notice of the entry of judgment. In 1991, the statute was amended, broadening the class of prospective appellants who could gain extensions to include all who showed “excusable neglect or good cause” and reducing the time prescription for appellants who lacked notice of the entry of judgment from 30 to 14 days. §2107(c). For other cases, the statute does not say how long an extension may run. Rule 4(a)(5)(C), however, does prescribe a limit: “No extension [of time for filing a notice of appeal] may exceed 30 days after the prescribed time [for filing a notice of appeal] or 14 days after the date [of] the order granting the [extension] motion . . . , whichever is later.” Pp. 5–6.

(b) This Court’s precedent shapes a rule of decision that is both clear and easy to apply: If a time prescription governing the transfer of adjudicatory authority from one Article III court to another appears in a statute, the limitation is jurisdictional; otherwise, the time specification fits within the claim-processing category.

In concluding otherwise, the Court of Appeals relied on Bowles. There, Bowles filed a notice of appeal outside a limitation set by Congress in §2107(c). This Court held that, as a result, the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction over his tardy appeal. 551 U. S., at 213. In conflating Rule 4(a)(5)(C) with §2107(c) here, the Seventh Circuit failed to grasp the distinction between jurisdictional appeal filing deadlines and deadlines stated only in mandatory claim-processing rules. It therefore misapplied Bowles. Bowles’s statement that “the taking of an appeal within the prescribed time is ‘mandatory and jurisdictional,’ ” id., at 209, is a characterization left over from days when the Court was “less than meticulous” in using the term “jurisdictional,” Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U. S. 443 . The statement was correct in Bowles, where the time prescription was imposed by Congress, but it would be incorrect here, where only Rule 4(a)(5)(C) limits the length of the extension. Pp. 7–10.

835 F. 3d 761, vacated and remanded.

Ginsburg, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Primary Holding

Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(C)’s limitation on extensions of time to file a notice of appeal is a court-made rule and not jurisdictional.

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