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Edwards v. Gahm

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 5, 2019

MR. RENÉ D. EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES R. GAHM, et al., Defendants.

          RENÉ D. EDWARDS SUMMIT PLACE APARTMENTS, Appearing pro se.

          MELIHA ARNAUTOVIC, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NJ, TRENTON, On behalf of Defendants.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This case concerns claims by Plaintiff regarding his arrest and conviction for violating the Sex Offender's Monitoring Act, a conviction which was vacated four years later after the New Jersey Supreme Court deemed the retroactive application of the Act to be unconstitutional. On November 1, 2018, this Court granted Defendants' motions to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them, concluding that while the Court was cognizant of the harms the Plaintiff had suffered as a result of his incarceration, which included a vicious beating by a cellmate and serious bodily injuries, the named Defendants could not held liable as a matter of law for the claims Plaintiff has asserted against them.[1] (Docket No. 50 at 26-27.)

         On December 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. (Docket No. 52.) On May 1, 2019, the Third Circuit dismissed Plaintiff's appeal because it was untimely. (Docket No. 54.) The Third Circuit explained:

The appeal is dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction. Appellant filed a notice of appeal concerning the District Court's November 1, 2018 order dismissing his claims against all of the defendants. Appellant was required to file his notice of appeal with the District Court Clerk by Monday, December 3, 2018, within the applicable thirty-day appeal period measured after entry of the judgment or order. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A). See also Fed. R. App. P. 26(a)(1)(C) (a calculated period ending on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday is extended to include the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday). Appellant's notice of appeal, filed on December 11, 2018, was untimely. It is well-settled that “the timely filing of a notice of appeal is a jurisdictional requirement.” Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205, 213-14 (2007). Accordingly, we lack jurisdiction over the appeal, and we do not reach the motions filed by Appellant.

(Id.)

         Currently pending before this Court are four motions filed by Plaintiff: (1) MOTION to Reopen the Time to File an Appeal [55]; (2) MOTION To File, New Federal Judge, Chief Of Federal [57]; (3) MOTION For Oral Argument and Trial [60]; and MOTION to Reopen and Process New Evidence [67]. For the reasons expressed below, all of Plaintiff's motions will be denied.

         (1) MOTION to Reopen the Time to File an Appeal [55]

         Plaintiff argues that his time to appeal should be reopened because he did not receive notice of the Court's November 1, 2018 Opinion and Order dismissing his case until “several weeks later, ” and only after he called the Clerk's Office, which informed him that his case had been dismissed.[2] Plaintiff has moved for this relief pursuant to Federal Appellate Rule 4(a)(6).

         The Federal Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure provide a limited remedy to a party who has failed to file his notice of appeal within the applicable deadline, which in this case was 30 days after the November 1, 2018 decision. Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 77(d), “Immediately after entering an order or judgment, the clerk must serve notice of the entry, as provided in Rule 5(b), on each party who is not in default for failing to appear. The clerk must record the service on the docket. A party also may serve notice of the entry as provided in Rule 5(b).” Rule 77(d) further provides, “Lack of notice of the entry does not affect the time for appeal or relieve--or authorize the court to relieve--a party for failing to appeal within the time allowed, except as allowed by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (4)(a).” Appellate Rule 4(a) provides a procedure for reopening the time to file a notice of appeal when the party desiring to appeal does not receive notice of the entry of the judgment or order. “In a civil case, [] the only way in which a party may obtain relief based on a clerk's failure to serve notice of the entry of a judgment or order is via Appellate Rule 4(a) . . . .” Poole v. Family Court of New Castle County, 368 F.3d 263, 266 (3d Cir. 2004).

         Appellate Rule 4(a)(5) states in relevant part, “The district court may extend the time to file a notice of appeal if . . . a party so moves no later than 30 days after the time proscribed by this Rule 4(a) expires. . . .” Appellate Rule 4(a)(6) contains similar language: “The district court may reopen the time to file an appeal . . . if . . . the motion is filed within 180 days after the judgment or order is entered or within 7 days after the moving party receives notice of the entry. . . .”

         Here, Plaintiff claims that he filed his notice of appeal too late because he did not receive notice from the Clerk “until several weeks later.” (Docket No. 55 at 3.) Plaintiff does not provide the date he received notice of the November 1, 2018 decision, which would inform the Court of whether Plaintiff's 30-day window to appeal had already expired, and whether relief under Appellate Rule 4(a)(5) was still available to Plaintiff.

         Even accepting that Plaintiff received late notice, [3] his time to appeal had expired, and he could not avail himself of the remedy under Appellate Rule 4(a)(5), Plaintiff's current application under Appellate Rule 4(a)(6) is without force. Plaintiff admits that he received notice of the November 1, 2018 decision several weeks after its docketing, which resulted in Plaintiff filing his December 11, 2018 notice of appeal. Accepting for the sake of Plaintiff's motion that he was first notified of this Court's November 1, 2018 decision on December 11, 2018, at that time Plaintiff had ...


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