Random Violence to Appellate Procedure

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
March 10, 2023

Two clearly untimely appeals—and I use “clearly” advisedly here—were not dismissed. If appellate deadlines are jurisdictional, then how to explain this?

Because the judgment was affirmed anyway, you answer? Well, I say, if the court is going to affirm anyway, then why not dismiss as the jurisdiction rules require? Otherwise, is this not just random violence to the rules of appellate procedure?

Jeff has a different view. Here is the Jeff Lewis hypothesis for the utility of complicated appellate rules: relaxing the machinery of arcana is how appellate judges show sympathy to deserving litigants without changing the actual outcome.

But regardless, the no-harm-no-foul excuse only applies to one of the cases. The other case we discuss ended in reversal. How did the court explain how it could possibly reverse a judgment based on an untimely appeal? Simple: It ignored the issue.

Are these cases just exceptions to the normal operation of the rule of law? Of course. But remember: because the sovereign decides the Exception and when, the sovereign is not, in the end, subject to the Rule of Law except, in the final analysis, by the sovereign’s consent. The Rule of Law, then, becomes merely a slogan.

Watch the clip here.

This is a clip from episode 35 of the California Appellate Law Podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at www.CALPodcast.com, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at www.tvalaw.com/articles. His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at tkowal@tvalaw.com or (714) 641-1232.