The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
Make Sure You Are Filing the Right Document. In Kinsley v. Lakeview Reg’l Med. Ctr., 5th Cir., June 3, 2009 the plaintiff filed what it thought was a Notice of Appeal five days before a December 31 deadline. However, the document was instead a Request for Oral Argument. The plaintiff was notified of the mistake and submitted the correct document within a five day grace period granted by the local rules. The 5th Circuit dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal without consideration on the merits, holding that the local rule did not operate to extend the deadline five days and a Request for Oral Argument was not equivalent to a Notice of Appeal.
An Accidentally Deleted E-mail Is Not an Excuse for Missing a Deadline. In American Boat Co. v. Unknown Sunken Barge, 8th Cir., June 4, 2009 the losing party claimed to have not received the e-mail notifying it that the trial court had issued a final order. At hearing, the court determined that the losing party’s e-mail system had received the e-mail, and someone at the law firm accidentally deleted it, leaving no record of the message. The 8th Circuit ruled this was not a legitimate excuse for failing to file a Notice of Appeal in a timely fashion.
Spam and Junk E-Mail Filters Can Block Court Notices. An attorney who failed to appear in Colorado was required to pay the opposing party’s attorney fees when his firm’s spam filter inadvertently blocked e-notice of a settlement conference. Pace v. United Serv. Auto. Ass’n, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49425 (D. Colo. July 9, 2007).
Keep Staff Informed. In the “good old days,” staff docketed deadline dates from the U.S. postal mail. By opening, date-stamping, and processing court notices and other deadline-related documents, they automatically knew the status of the attorney’s cases and were able to keep the docket up-to-date. In today’s law office, e-mail from opposing counsel and courts, along with electronic case filing, has replaced much of the paper. While going paperless is beneficial in many ways, it does have an unintended side effect: cutting staff out of the loop.