Legal Topics Litigation Strategy Practice of Law

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Typo Can Tank Case

Computers don’t make mistakes, people do.  Most of the time minor typographical errors are inconsequential, but they can be potentially case-ending.  Take, for example, a typo in an electronically-filed notice of appeal that is not corrected until after the appeals deadline has passed. A stickler court can dismiss the appeal and the case is lost. 

As reported in the National Law Journal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was faced with this scenario when the attorney electronically filed his notice of appeal the last day before the deadline with the wrong event code and then fixed it six days later. The court graciously accepted the filing, albeit with a warning to counsel to be more careful with e-filing. The court noted that

[t]here may well be cases in which a filing is so riddled with errors that it cannot fairly be considered a notice of appeal.

The attorney involved said he “didn’t really exhale until I got this opinion.”  Save yourself this stress —  type carefully!

On the Ninth Circuit‘s mandatory e-filing system, see Appeals and Writs in Criminal Cases §45.37 (3d ed Cal CEB 2007).

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