SW Legal studies in Business

Time Deadlines for Filing Appeals Strictly Enforced
Description The Maine high court held that by state law, notice of appeal of court decisions must be filed within 21 days of the trial court decision. There are no exceptions, even if the clerk of the court forgot to mail the parties to the litigation a copy of the court's judgment.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Appeals; Filing; Timely; Clerk
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Some residents of the city of South Portland, Maine, were in a dispute with the city's planning board. The residents properly appealed a decision of the board to the trial court, which upheld the decision of the board on January 17. Copies of the judgment were to have been mailed to attorneys for both parties, but the clerk failed to do so. The residents did not get a copy of the decision until their attorney obtained one on March 17. The residents then filed a notice of appeal of the trial court's decision to the state's high court on April 8.

Appeals dismissed. "The plaintiffs' appeal is untimely. A notice of appeal must be filed within twenty-one days from entry of judgment." The parties did not receive notice of the judgment due to the court clerk's error, but "Lack of notice of the entry by the clerk does not affect the time to appeal or relieve or authorize the court to relieve a party for failure to appeal within the time allowed." The notice of appeal was not filed until 81 days after the judgment. Even though the clerk failed to deliver the judgment, the time limits set by state rules of appellate procedure are strict, so the appeal must be dismissed.

Citation Bourke v. City of South Portland, --- A.2d --- (2002 WL 31109619, Sup. Jud. Ct., Maine, 2002)

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