Fourth Circuit Cracks Down on Tardy Filings in Pair of Opinions

United States v. Oliver (No. 15-4376)

In Oliver, the Fourth Circuit addressed the Court’s authority to dismiss a criminal appeal as untimely sua sponte. Oliver filed his appeal nearly three months after the denial of his §2255 petition, and several years after his actual conviction. The Court notes that “when the Government promptly invokes the rule [setting deadlines for filing an appeal] in response to a late-filed criminal appeal, we must dismiss.” However, in this case the Government failed to raise the issue until briefs were already filed, and therefore the Court considers its own authority to dismiss Oliver’s appeal sua sponte. After running through some of the considerations at play, including finality of criminal judgments, and the orderly presentation of post-conviction review, the Court concludes that it had “inherent authority” to dismiss an untimely appeal sua sponte. However, the Court notes that it will only exercise such authority in “extraordinary circumstances,” which it happens to find in the present case, dismissing Oliver’s appeal.

United States v. Hyman (No. 16-4771)

In Hyman, the defendant similarly filed a tardy notice of appeal. However, the Government filed a motion to dismiss the appeal only after Hyman had already filed his opening brief. Hyman contended that the Government’s tardy motion to dismiss constitutes a waiver of the timeliness issue. The Court rejects this argument and holds that the Government’s motion was timely, dismissing Hyman’s appeal.

Nav Map