502 U.S. 1 (1991).

One-Sentence Takeaway: In federal courts, the deadline to appeal an order is tolled by the party’s timely filing of a motion for reconsideration and the 30-day period to appeal the order begins to run on the date the district court denies the motion for reconsideration rather than on the date the district court entered the original order.

Summary: Defendant was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.  Defendant moved to suppress the evidence that was seized during search of his vehicle and other evidence obtained therefrom.

The district court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress.  The Government moved for reconsideration and the district court denied Government’s motion for reconsideration.

Within 30 days of the district court’s ruling on the motion for reconsideration, the Government appealed the district court’s order suppressing the evidence.  The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely because it was filed more than 30 days from the date of the original order suppressing evidence.

The United States Supreme Court reversed and held that the Government’s appeal was timely as it was filed within 30 days of the district court’s denial of the motion for reconsideration..  The Court recognized that in both civil and criminal cases, “a motion for rehearing … renders an otherwise final decision of a district court not final until it decides the petition for rehearing.” Under this rule, “district courts are given the opportunity to correct their own alleged errors, and allowing them to do so prevents unnecessary burdens being placed on the courts of appeals.”

Related entries