Everybody knows that you have thirty days to file a Notice of Appeal in a civil case. Rule 3(c)(1) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure says that: "a party must file and serve a notice of appeal: within thirty days after entry of judgment."
The lawyers appealing from a grant of summary judgment in a Business Court case, Carter v. Clements Walker PLLC, obviously knew that. They e-filed their Notice of Appeal with the Court on the thirtieth day, but Judge Gale granted the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss their appeal in an Order this week.
Why wasn’t that appeal timely, you are wondering. Well, the answer is that even though the Notice of Appeal was e-filed in the Business Court on the thirtieth day, it was filed too late — at 7:37 p.m.
But the Business Court is electronic. You can make filings at any time during the day, or night. Rule 6.7 of the Business Court Rules even says that "[a]n electronic filing may be submitted to the Court at any time of the day or night."
But Business Court Rule 6.7 goes on to say that:
For purposes of determining the timeliness of a filing, if the submission of the filing began during normal business hours of the Business Court (8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays), the filing is deemed to have occurred on that date. If the submission of the filing began after normal business hours of the Business Court, the filing is deemed to have occurred on the next day the Business Court is open for business.
So Judge Gale found this Notice of Appeal to be untimely, and dismissed the appeal. If you are fascinated by appellate procedure (and if you are, you should be reading the North Carolina Appellate Practice Blog), then you might be wondering how it is that the trial court gets the authority to dismiss an appeal. Judge Gale covered all that. Order ¶¶ 9-12.
Briefly, you are thinking of the general rule that an appeal takes the case out of the jurisdiction of the trial court, rendering the trial judge "functus officio." That’s certainly true, but Rule 25(a) of the Rules of Appellate Procedure says that a Motion to Dismiss an appeal can be presented to the trial court until the appeal has been filed in an appellate court. An appeal isn’t "filed" with the Court of Appeals when the Notice of Appeal is filed with the trial court. Instead, "filing" with the appellate court occurs only when the record on appeal is filed or the docket fee is paid.