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Court clarifies rules relating to filing deadlines

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Filing deadlines are important for attorneys in any case.

But some recent confusion in a child custody appeal brought to light some uncertainty about how the state’s appellate rules compute some of those deadlines when “non-business days” or “calendar days” are applied to the motions practices before the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued an order Jan. 14 that delves into those issues and offers some guidance for attorneys whose court filings may hinge on a single day when determining if they’re timely or not.

Justices issued the order in the case of Allan C. Bir v. Cynthia Bir, No. 06A01-1009-DR-449, which involves a post-divorce child custody dispute that’s on appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals. The father had filed an emergency request for transfer in November, and the mother on Dec. 10 filed her response to that request.

But following that, Allan C. Bir and his attorneys sought leave to file a reply in support of the earlier motion for emergency transfer and that’s where the appellate rules overlapped and created confusion for the attorneys representing the father.

The mother filed the document Dec. 10, and the father filed a reply request on Dec. 21 – one day past the date the clerk’s office determined was the deadline according to the Indiana Appellate Rules 25 and 34(D).

Determining the father’s reply was untimely, the clerk’s office refused to file it but the attorneys then asked for permission to file a belated document in the case. The rules at issue are 25(C) regarding an automatic extension of an “additional three days from the date of deposit in the mail or with the carrier,” as well as 25(B) that discusses computing time as “non-business days” and 34(D) which says replies must be filed within five days of service of the response.

Specifically, the attorneys for Allan Bir questioned whether “non-business days” or “calendar days” should be applied to the deadlines in this case.

“Appellant contended that the rule was unclear on this point and, therefore, he should be permitted to file his motion belated if the Clerk’s interpretation of the rules was correct,” the Supreme Court order says. “Appellant’s counsel also suggested that ‘[i]t would be a great benefit to appellate practitioners for this Court to issue a published order clarifying the operation of Rules 25 and Rule 34(D).”

Following that suggestion, the court published the order that clarifies how 25(B) and (C) operate and relate to determining a due date on a Rule 34(D) motion. Justice Steven David didn’t participate in the matter as he’d handled the child custody issue at the trial level when still on the Boone Circuit bench.

“Specifically, when a response to a motion is served by mail, three calendar days are immediately added to the service date per Appellate Rule 25(C)…,” the court wrote. “The five non-business days expressed in Rule 34(D) are then counted from that third calendar day if it is a business day, or are counted from the next business day if the third day of the 'additional three days' falls on a non-business day.”

As applied to the Bir case, the justices determined that the clerk’s office correctly interpreted the appellate rules and refused to file the reply. But it granted the belated document filing as a result of the confusion.

Ultimately, the court declined the emergency transfer request in this case and left jurisdiction with the Indiana Court of Appeals.

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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