Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time limits for appeal

I just got a "statement of decision" from the Santa Cruz court clerk. The decision is dated Feb. 17, and stamped as being filed on Feb. 27. The clerk now certifies that he mailed it to me on Apr. 16. The trial ended on Jan. 16.

These dates are very important. As I understand it, I have 60 days to file a notice of appeal, or 90 days if I am never even notified. These deadlines are very strict, and the courts love to extinguish your appeal rights because you missed some silly deadline. But what is the deadline? It is ambiguous.

The last time I filed an appeal, I had to deal with the fact that Cmr. Irwin Joseph issued an oral decision in court, and then a written decision months later. The rules are ambiguous as which decision starts the 60 day clock.

There is a very simple solution to this nonsense. Every court order or decision should simply say on the document what the deadline is, and what is the procedure for appealing. It would make life easier for a lot of people. But the court won't bother.

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