551 U.S. 205 (2007), 06-5306, Bowles v. Russell

Docket Nº:06-5306.
Citation:551 U.S. 205, 127 S.Ct. 2360, 168 L.Ed.2d 96
Opinion Judge:Thomas, Justice
Party Name:Keith BOWLES, Petitioner, v. Harry RUSSELL, Warden.
Case Date:June 14, 2007
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 205

551 U.S. 205 (2007)

127 S.Ct. 2360, 168 L.Ed.2d 96

Keith BOWLES, Petitioner,

v.

Harry RUSSELL, Warden.

No. 06-5306.

United States Supreme Court

June 14, 2007

Argued March 26, 2007.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

[127 S.Ct. 2361] Syllabus

Having failed to file a timely notice of appeal from the Federal District Court's denial of habeas relief, petitioner Bowles moved to reopen the filing period pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6), which allows a district court to grant a 14-day extension under certain conditions, see 28 U.S.C. §2107(c). The District Court granted Bowles' motion but inexplicably gave him 17 days to file his notice of appeal. He filed within the 17 days allowed by the District Court, but after the 14-day period allowed by Rule 4(a)(6) and §2107(c). The Sixth Circuit held that the notice was untimely and that it therefore lacked jurisdiction to hear the case under this Court's precedent.

Held:

Bowles' untimely notice of appeal--though filed in reliance upon the District Court's order--deprived the Sixth Circuit of jurisdiction. Pp. 208-215.

(a) The taking of an appeal in a civil case within the time prescribed by statute is "mandatory and jurisdictional." Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 61, 103 S.Ct. 400, 74 L.Ed.2d 225 (per curiam). There is a significant distinction between time limitations set forth in a statute such as §2107, which limit a court's jurisdiction, see, e.g., Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443, 453, 124 S.Ct. 906, 157 L.Ed.2d 867, and those based on court rules, which do not, see, e.g., id., at 454, 124 S.Ct. 906. Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 505, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163 L.Ed.2d 1097, and Scarborough v. Principi, 541 U.S. 401, 414, 124 S.Ct. 1856, 158 L.Ed.2d 674, distinguished. Because Congress decides, within constitutional bounds, whether federal courts can hear cases at all, it can also determine when, and under what conditions, federal courts can hear them. See United States v. Curry, 6 How. 106, 113, 12 L.Ed. 363. and when an "appeal has not been prosecuted in the manner directed, within the time limited by the acts of Congress, it must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction." Ibid. The resolution of this case follows naturally from this reasoning. Because Congress specifically limited the amount of time by which district courts can extend the notice-of-appeal period in §2107(c), Bowles' failure to file in accordance with the statute deprived the Court of Appeals of jurisdiction. and because Bowles' error is one of jurisdictional magnitude, he cannot rely on forfeiture or waiver to excuse his lack of compliance. Pp. 209-213.

(b) Bowles' reliance on the "unique circumstances" doctrine, rooted in Harris Truck Lines, Inc. v. Cherry Meat Packers, Inc., 371 U.S. 215, 83 S.Ct. 283, 9 L.Ed.2d 261

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(per curiam) and applied in Thompson v. INS, 375 U.S. 384, 84 S.Ct. 397, 11 L.Ed.2d 404 (per curiam), is rejected. Because this Court has no authority to create equitable exceptions to jurisdictional requirements, use of the doctrine is illegitimate. Harris Truck Lines and Thompson are overruled to the extent they purport to authorize an exception to a jurisdictional rule. Pp. 213-214.

432 F.3d 668, affirmed.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito, JJ., joined. Souter, J., filed a dissenting [127 S.Ct. 2362] opinion, in which Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 215.

COUNSEL

Paul Mancino, Jr., argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Paul Mancino III and Brett Mancino.

William P. Marshall argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Marc Dann, Attorney General of Ohio, Elise W. Porter, Acting Solicitor General, and Stephen P. Carney, Robert J. Krummen, and Elizabeth T. Scavo, Deputy Solicitors.

Malcolm L. Stewart argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance. On the brief were Solicitor General Clement, Assistant Attorney General Keisler, Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben, Eric D. Miller, Douglas N. Letter, and Lowell V. Sturgill, Jr. [*]

OPINION

Thomas, Justice.

In this case, a District Court purported to extend a party's time for filing an appeal beyond the period allowed by statute. We must decide whether the Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to entertain an appeal filed after the statutory period but within the period allowed by the District Court's order. We have long and repeatedly held that the time limits for filing a notice of appeal are jurisdictional in nature. Accordingly, we hold that petitioner's untimely notice—even

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though filed in reliance upon a District Court's order--deprived the Court of Appeals of jurisdiction.

I

In 1999, an Ohio jury convicted petitioner Keith Bowles of murder for his involvement in the beating death of OUie Gipson. The jury sentenced Bowles to 15 -years -to life imprisonment. Bowles unsuccessfully challenged his conviction and sentence on direct appeal.

Bowles then filed a federal habeas corpus application on September 5, 2002. On September 9, 2003, the District Court denied Bowles habeas relief. After the entry of final judgment, Bowles had 30 days to file a notice of appeal. Fed. Rule App. Proc. 4(a)(1)(A); 28 U.S.C. §2107(a). He failed to do so. On December 12, 2003, Bowles moved to reopen the period during which he could file his notice of appeal pursuant to Rule 4(a)(6), which allows district courts to extend the filing period for 14 days from the day the district court grants the order to reopen, provided certain conditions are met. See §2107(c).

On February 10, 2004, the District Court granted Bowles' motion. But rather than extending the time period by 14 days, as Rule 4(a)(6) and §2107(c) allow, the District Court inexplicably gave Bowles 17 days--until February 27—to file his notice of appeal. Bowles filed his notice on February 26—within the 17 days allowed by the District Court's order, but after the 14-day period allowed by Rule 4(a)(6) and §2107(c).

On appeal, respondent Russell argued that Bowles' notice was untimely and that the Court of Appeals therefore lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. The Court of Appeals agreed. It first recognized that this Court has consistently held the requirement of filing a timely notice of appeal is "mandatory and jurisdictional." 432 F.3d 668, 673 (C.A.6 2005) (citing Browder v. Director, Dept. of Corrections of Ill., 434 U.S. 257, 264, 98 S.Ct. 556, 54 L.Ed.2d 521 (1978)). The court also noted that Courts of

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Appeals have uniformly held that Rule 4(a)(6)'s 180-day period for filing [127 S.Ct. 2363] a motion to reopen is also mandatory and not susceptible to equitable modification. 432 F. 3d, at 673 (collecting cases). Concluding that "the fourteen-day period in Rule 4(a)(6) should be treated as strictly as the 180-day period in that same Rule," id., at 676, the Court of Appeals held that it was without jurisdiction. We granted certiorari, 549 U.S. 1092, 127 S.Ct. 763, 166 L.Ed.2d 590 (2006), and now affirm.

II

According to 28 U.S.C. §2107(a), parties must file notices of appeal within 30 days of the entry of the judgment being appealed. District courts have limited authority to grant an extension of the 30-day time period. Relevant to this case, if certain conditions are met, district courts have the statutory authority to grant motions to reopen the time for filing an appeal for 14 additional days. §2107(c). Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure carries §2107 into practice. In accord with §2107(c), Rule 4(a)(6) describes the district court's authority to reopen and extend the time for filing a notice of appeal after the lapse of the usual 30 days:

"(6) Reopening the Time to File an Appeal.

"The district court may reopen the time to file an appeal for a period of 14 days after the date when its order to reopen is entered, but only if all the following conditions are satisfied:

"(A) the motion is filed within 180 days after the judgment or order is entered or within 7 days after the moving party receives notice of the entry, whichever is earlier;

"(B) the court finds that the moving party was entitled to notice of the entry of the judgment or order sought to be appealed but did not receive the notice from the district court or any party within 21 days after entry; and

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"(C) the court finds that no party would be prejudiced." (Emphasis added.) 1

It is undisputed that the District Court's order in this case purported to reopen the filing period for more than 14 days. Thus, the question before us is whether the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to entertain an appeal filed outside the 14-day window allowed by §2107(c) but within the longer period granted by the District Court.

A

This Court has long held that the taking of an appeal within the prescribed time is "mandatory and jurisdictional." Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 61, 103 S.Ct. 400, 74 L.Ed.2d 225 (1982) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks omitted); 2 accord, Hohn v. United States, 524 U.S. 236, 247, 118 S.Ct. 1969, 141 L.Ed.2d 242 (1998) [127 S.Ct. 2364];

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Torres v. Oakland Scavenger Co., 487 U.S. 312, 314-315, 108 S.Ct. 2405, 101 L.Ed.2d 285 (1988); Browder, supra, at 264, 98 S.Ct. 556. Indeed, even prior to the creation of the circuit courts of appeals, this Court regarded statutory limitations on the timing of appeals as limitations on its own jurisdiction. See Scarborough v. Pargoud, 108 U.S. 567, 568, 2 S.Ct. 877, 27 L.Ed. 824 (1883) ("[T]he writ of error in this case was not brought within the time limited by law, and we have consequently no jurisdiction"); United States v. Curry, 6 How. 106, 113, 12 L.Ed. 363 (1848) ("[A]s this appeal has not been prosecuted in the manner directed,...

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