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December 2017

Submitted by: Charles T. Frazier, Jr.


Amelia Island Winter Meeting registration is now open! Please register as soon as possible, as activities are filling up!



I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and is enjoying the Holiday Season. Periodically, the Appellate Law Section Newsletter will provide a summary of a recent appellate-court decision or a new rule or statute that impacts both trial and appellate practice.


To this end, this Newsletter provides an excellent summary of a very recent Supreme Court decision addressing the timeliness of a notice of appeal under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, which provides principles that may also apply to perfecting appeals in state courts. The article was provided by Wystan Ackerman, the immediate past Chair of the Section, and written by Jonathan Small, an associate at Wystan’s firm, Robinson + Cole. The article appears in one of the firm’s blogs:



U.S. Supreme Court to Appellant – Time Is On Your Side


We have written previously on this blog about the importance of a timely notice of appeal in the Massachusetts Appeals Court. The issue bears revisiting in the federal courts following the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, No. 16-659 (November 8, 2017).

Justice Ginsburg, in her characteristic trenchant prose, introduced the issue in Hamer as follows:


This case presents a question of time, specifically, time to file a notice of appeal from a district court’s judgment.


The decision then distinguished between restrictions on subject-matter jurisdiction, such as the time limitations imposed by 28 U.S.C. § 2107(c), and “mandatory claim-processing” rules, such as the time limitations imposed by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(C). Ultimately, the Court ruled that, unlike the jurisdictional rules established by Congress, the claim-processing rules that set forth time limitations, such as those found in Rule 4(a)(5)(c), do not implicate a court’s subject-matter jurisdiction, and can be waived or forfeited.


Hamer involved an appellant whose employment discrimination suit was dismissed by the district court on summary judgment. After the judgment of dismissal was entered, her counsel filed a motion to withdraw and a motion for an extension of the appeal filing deadline, to give the appellant sufficient time to find new counsel for the appeal. The district court granted both motions, allowing a 60-day extension of the appeal deadline, even though Rule 4(a)(5)(C) confines such extensions to 30 days.


Addressing the issue sua sponte, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the 30-day time limitation in Rule 4(a)(5)(C) is jurisdictional, and the district court’s extension of time beyond that allotment was therefore ineffectual. On that basis, the court dismissed the appeal.


The Supreme Court reversed. Acknowledging that earlier opinions by the Court “have sometimes overlooked th[e] distinction” between jurisdictional limitations and claim-processing rules or elements of a cause of action, Justice Ginsburg explained that “a provision governing the time to appeal in a civil action qualifies as jurisdictional only if Congress sets the time.” These provisions cannot be waived or forfeited and may be raised at any time, including sua sponte, by the reviewing court.


By contrast, claim-processing rules, which serve to promote the orderly process of litigation by prescribing certain procedural steps at specified times, are not set by Congress and do not invoke the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court and may be waived or forfeited.


Rule 4(a)(5)(C) is a claim-processing rule. It provides:


No extension [of time for filing a notice of appeal] under this Rule 4(a)(5) may exceed 30 days after the prescribed time [for filing a notice of appeal] or 14 days after the date when the order granting the motion is entered, whichever is later.


Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5)(C). Significantly, this time limitation does not appear in 28 U.S.C. § 2107(c), which provides:


(c) The district court may, upon motion filed not later than 30 days after the expiration of the time otherwise set for bringing appeal, extend the time for appeal upon a showing of excusable neglect or good cause. In addition, if the district court finds—


(1) that a party entitled to notice of the entry of a judgment or order did not receive such notice from the clerk or any party within 21 days of its entry, and


(2) that no party would be prejudiced,


the district court may, upon motion filed within 180 days after entry of the judgment or order or within 14 days after receipt of such notice, whichever is earlier, reopen the time for appeal for a period of 14 days from the date of entry of the order reopening the time for appeal.


28 U.S.C. § 2107(c).


The statute does not state how long an extension for “excusable neglect or good cause” may run.


Because Rule 4(a)(5)(C) is the only source of the 30-day limitation on extensions of the appeal period for “excusable neglect or good cause,” it is not jurisdictional and can be waived or forfeited. Accordingly, the Seventh Circuit erred when it held that the appeal was jurisdictionally barred as untimely.


Hamer provides a helpful discussion of the jurisdictional and rules-based authority of federal appellate courts. In this case, the appellant may have avoided the loss of her appeal rights, but the decision also underscores the importance of understanding the appeal process following a judgment entered by the trial court.



Many thanks to Wystan for this fine article!







November 2017


Winter Meeting at Amelia Island


The Winter Meeting is shaping up. Registration will open November 27. We are encouraged to register early, as activities and rooms fill up quickly. The post-Meeting trip to Cuba is on! Details are forthcoming, but space is limited, so if you are interested please register on or soon after November 27.


The joint presentation by our section and the Extra-Contractual Liability Section will occur on Monday, February 26, at 7:45am. The program title is “Reversal of Misfortune: How to Establish Favorable Precedent Affecting Bad Faith Litigation.” The presentation will develop an understanding of the benefits of employing a proactive approach creating favorable precedent, under which emerging insurance bad-faith issues are identified early and an active trial and appeal strategy is pursued in cases with the best facts and in the best jurisdictions.  We have an esteemed panel representing the interests involved in forming this strategy:  Vicki Roberts (insurer in-house counsel), Laurie Hepler (appellate counsel), and Scott Hofer (trial counsel).


Please block your calendars for the presentation as well as the entire Meeting—Feb. 25-28, 2018.



The U.S. Supreme Court’s new electronic filing system


 At the Charleston Winter Meeting in March, our Section presented Writing in the Electronic Age, addressing how we need to modify our legal writing for the screen reader because most courts require electronic filing—most courts except the U. S. Supreme Court, that is.


But that has changed! On November 13, 2017, the Supreme Court has joined the electronic age when the Court’s electronic filing system (EFS) became effective. Now, any party or amicus curiae represented by an attorney in the Supreme Court must submit filings through the EFS during both the certiorari and merits stages of an appeal. Further, the list of submissions (e.g., certiorari petitions; briefs) included in the Court’s online docket for each case will be hyperlinked, and thus, just a click away to any attorney or member of the public.

For a summary of the EFS and steps on registering and filing documents, please click here to read.




October 2017


The Appellate Law Section plans to periodically profile of one its members in its monthly Newsletter to help Section members and others in the FDCC better know who we are.


This month, we welcome the Section’s newest member, Melinda S. Kollross. Melinda is a senior partner and Co-Chair of Clausen Miller's Appellate Practice Group in Chicago, handling trial-monitoring and post-trial and appellate litigation for clients nationwide. Licensed in Illinois and New York, Melinda has handled more than 150 appeals in state and federal appellate courts, including participation in two cases before the United States Supreme Court. Her practice includes commercial litigation, first-party property, liability-insurance coverage and liability defense.


Melinda has been actively involved in DRI’s Appellate Advocacy Committee. She wrote a chapter on post-trial motions in A Defense Lawyer’s Guide to Appellate Practice, published by the DRI in 2004. She also has authored two feature articles published in For The Defense, titled: “Oral Argument: What It Really Takes To ‘Please the Court,’” and “Evaluating, Negotiating and Effectuating Settlements on Appeal.” Melinda recently served as the DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee’s 2017 Annual Meeting Chair, and moderated a panel discussion at the Annual Meeting, titled “Perspectives on the Appellate Practitioner’s Role at Trial and on Appeal: A View from the Plaintiff, the Defense, and the Court,” which featured sitting Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman as a panelist.


Melinda enjoys spending time with her two daughters, Alyssa (9) and Kristina (5) (pictured below), and her hobbies include exercising, fine art and fine dining, and exploring the great outdoors.


Melinda, welcome to the FDCC and the Appellate Law Section! We are happy you have joined us!





Continuing the theme of the Appellate Law Section’s joint presentation with the International and Commercial Litigation Sections, London-based Section member Stephen Carter has provided an article he helped finalized that was prepared by his colleague, Bernadette Bailey. The article addresses how European courts have addressed English jurisdiction clauses in insurance policies, and whether English courts can or should apply those decisions in cases pending in the UK in light of Brexit and the recently passed Repeal Bill by the British Parliament.


English Jurisdiction Clauses in Insurance Policies – The European Court’s View

CLICK HERE to read.






Montreux Meeting – July 2017

As advertised, the joint presentation at the Montreux Meeting by the Appellate Law, International, and Commercial Litigation Sections generated robust discussion regarding several issues confronting the European Union Member States, the United Kingdom, and the United States. At least five countries were represented on the panel and in the audience, collectively. Lead by moderator Bill Vita, the most spirited exchange of views concerned the effect of Brexit on commercial litigation and enforcement of judgments. With the ink barely dry from “The Great Repeal Bill” that will be debated in the UK Parliament this Autumn, Stephen Carter gave the UK perspective on whether EU law, including precedent by the European Court of Justice, will apply in disputes filed in the UK after Brexit, among other issues. Jorge Angell provided stimulating counter-perspectives from the EU in general, and Spain in particular. Several audience members from other countries weighed in with insightful comments.


As a type of counter to the uncertainties facing future litigation in the EU and UK, Stephen Brake and Charlie Frazier presented a summary of key aspects and differences of the US judicial system at both the trial and appellate level. They focused on the consistent and well-settled aspects of that system and how they differ with the other jurisdictions. These differenced include the fundamental right to a jury trial and appeal as a matter of right in the US, followed by a frank discussion of the relatively higher cost of and greater length of time to resolve suits filed in the US. 


Amelia Island Meeting – February 24-28, 2018


Planning for the Section’s substantive-law presentation at the Amelia Island Meeting is well underway, with the topic, content, and panel essentially finalized. We will be joining with the Extra Contractual Liability Section to present

“Creating Favorable Precedent in Bad-Faith Litigation.”


The ultimate goal of the presentation will be to develop an understanding of the benefits of employing a proactive approach in creating favorable precedent, under which emerging issues are identified early and an ­active trial and appeal strategy is pursued in cases with the best facts and in the best jurisdictions. The discussion will focus on the roles played by in-house, trial, and appellate counsel in coordinating strategy by identify­ing, developing, and preserving the best arguments in the trial courts, issue selection and posturing on appeal and aggressively seeking settlement to avoid establishing bad precedent in prob­lem cases—cases with bad facts, in a problematic jurisdiction, or that did not present or preserve the best arguments.


Providing the in-house counsel point of view will be FDCC Past President Vicki Roberts, Vice-President and Counsel of Meadowbrook Insurance Group. Joining Vicki will be a bad-faith-litigation specialist and an appellate specialist, to be named soon.


You will not want to miss this one!



JULY 2017


The FDCC Appellate Law Section would like to remind our members of the program that we will present at the upcoming Annual Meeting in Montreaux, Switzerland. On the heels of the surprising general election in the U.K., and commensurate with the international flavor of the Annual Meeting in Montreux, our section and the Commercial Litigation and International Sections will present an international panel of attorneys who will address current issues of importance and interest. The panel- and audience-interactive discussion will address: (1) Brexit, including the procedural aspects of the rights of EU citizens living in Great Britain; (2) enforcement of judgments in the EU and Britain; (3) differences in discovery practice between Europe and the U.S.; and (4) differences in trials and appeals between the U.S. and Europe.

Our program will occur on Thursday, July 27 at 7:45 a.m. in the Salon de Musique. Please check the on-site brochure to locate this meeting room. The moderator will be Bill Vita of Westerman Ball et al. in Uniondale, NY. The panel members are Jorge Angell of L.C. Rodrigo Abogados in Madrid; Stephen Carter of Carter Perry Bailey LLP in London; Stephen Brake of Nutter McClennan & Fish in Boston; and Charlie Frazier of Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend in Dallas.

We would also like to congratulate Charlie Frazier, who has been appointed as chair of our section for the 2017-2018 FDCC year. If you would like to become more involved in our section in the coming year, please reach out to Charlie at



JUNE 2017


On the heels of the surprising general election in the U.K., and commensurate with the international flavor of the Annual Meeting in Montreux, our section and the Commercial Litigation and International Sections will present an international panel of attorneys who will address current issues of importance and interest. Among the topics: (1) the differences in litigating in Continental Europe, the U.K., and the U.S., with emphasis on pre-trial discovery, admission of evidence, and trials by jury vs. trials by the judge; (2) how judgments are enforced in E.U. member states; and (3) where does the U.K. now stand in terms of attempting to retain certain aspects of E.U. membership, including the application of critical E.U. laws and procedural rules pertinent to commercial litigation.

Our program will be on Thursday, July 27 at 7:45 a.m. Check your on-site brochure for location information. The moderator will be William Vita of Westerman Ball et al. in Uniondale, NY. The speakers include Jorge Angell of L.C. Rodrigo Abogados in Madrid, Spain, Stephen Carter of Carter Perry Bailey LLP in London, Stephen Brake of Nutter McClennan & Fish in Boston, and Charlie Frazier of Alexander Dubose et al. in Dallas.



APRIL 2017


At the Winter Meeting in Charleston, our section hosted a “dine around” dinner at which we welcomed new member Laurie Hepler of Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP, an appellate firm in San Francisco. We also had a very strong turnout for our CLE program, “Legal Writing for the Electronic Age.” Charlie Frazier, Bob Olson, Mike Aylward and Justice John Few of the South Carolina Supreme Court presented some great tips on how to make your briefs more persuasive and easier to read for judges and law clerks who are reading them on electronic devices. For those who were unable to make it to Charleston, or those who would like more information on this topic, Charlie put together a great paper, which is available by following this link, starting at page 456. The paper has a number of links to other excellent resources on this topic. Take a look and learn how to make your legal writing easier to skim and navigate on an electronic device, and use more visible structures and visual aids. If you would like a copy of the Powerpoint, please email Charlie at


For the upcoming Annual Meeting in Montreaux, Switzerland, the Appellate Law Section will be joining with the Commercial Litigation Section to present a program on “A Comparison of Commercial Litigation in Europe and North America.” The program will discuss how commercial litigation differs on both sides of the pond and will focus on what American attorneys should know when advising their clients regarding business dealings in Europe. Panelists will include William Vita, Jorge Angell, Stephen Brake, Stephen Carter, and Charlie Frazier.


If you are interested in writing a FDCC blog post (a short article published online) on an appellate law topic, please email Wystan Ackerman at




more Calendar

Webinar - Succession Planning for In-House Counsel

2/25/2018 » 2/28/2018
2018 Winter Meeting - Amelia Island

Professional Women's Forum 2018

4/6/2018 » 4/8/2018

5/20/2018 » 5/23/2018
Litigation Management College

Featured Members
Tracy S. PrewittO'Bryan, Brown & Toner, PLLC, Louisville, KY
Jay C. SalsmanHarris, Creech, Ward & Blackerby, PA, New Bern, NC

Special Thanks

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