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Name: Bowles v. Russell
Case #: 6-Jun
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 06/14/2007
Subsequent History: 127 S.Ct. 2360; 168 L.Ed.2d 96

Because time limits for filing a notice of appeal are jurisdictional, failure to file the notice timely will deprive the Court of Appeals of jurisdiction. In 1999, petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to prison for life. His direct appeal challenges were unsuccessful and he filed a habeas action with the District Court in 2002 which was denied in 2003. After the entry of judgment, he had 30 days to file a notice of appeal but failed to do so. On December 12, 2003, pursuant to the applicable federal rule, he moved to reopen the period in which he could file the notice. The District Court granted the request and extended the period 17 days, rather than the allowed 14 days, and recorded the date on the order. Petitioner filed it after the 14 days but before the 17th day. Delivering the opinion in this 5-4 decision, Justice Thomas found that petitioner was strictly held to the established deadline and because the error is a jurisdictional one, forfeiture or waiver will not excuse the lack of compliance with the statute. Further, petitioner is not to be excused because of the District Court’s misadvice — the statute terms are created by Congress and only Congress can authorize any deviation.