A recent decision by the Louisiana Fifth Circuit provides a hard lesson in appellate procedure. The lesson: When the clerk of court mails notice of final judgment, the appeal clock is ticking. Neither a request nor an appellate court’s order to provide written reasons for judgment stops the clock.
The case is Alexander v. Maki, 15-517 (La. App. 5 Cir. 1/4/16). Here is the sequence of events:
- June 26, 2014: Second Parish Court issued a judgment, granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissing the plaintiff’s suit with prejudice.
- July 7, 2014: The clerk of court mailed notice of the June 26 judgment.
- July 16, 2014: Plaintiff filed a request for written reasons for judgment.
- July 28, 2014: The trial court issued a judgment instructing plaintiff’s counsel to obtain a copy of the trial court’s transcribed oral reasons for judgment. Plaintiff applied to the court of appeal for a supervisory writ to review denial of her request for written reasons.
- October 9, 2014: The court of appeal granted a supervisory writ, ordering the trila court to provide written reasons for judgment.
- October 14, 2014: The trial court issued written reasons for judgment.
- March 11, 2015: According to the plaintiff, the clerk mailed notice of written reasons for judgment.
- April 8, 2015: Plaintiff filed a motion to appeal the granting of summary judgment.
The court of appeal dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal as untimely. “A judgment ad reasons for judgment are two separate and distinct legal documents,¨ the court reasoned, “and appeals are taken from the judgment, not the reasons for judgment. [Citations omitted.] The appealable judgment in this case is the summary judgment issued by the trial judge on June 26, 2014.” Because the plaintiff did not take the appeal until about nine months after notice of the final judgment, her appeal was untimely.