A Question of Time, Specifically, Time to File Notice of an Appeal

Deadlines are critical. And when it comes to appellate-filing deadlines, the Supreme Court recently clarified they come in two flavors.

  • Rigid statutory deadlines are “jurisdictional” and cannot be forfeited or waived.
  • Their more flexible cousins, deadlines set by court rules, are mere “claim-processing rules” that can be forfeit or waived.

Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing

Specifically, Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure requires that a notice of appeal be filed within 30 days. In Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing, counsel obtained a two month extension from the district court. But when the plaintiff filed its notice of appeal, the Seventh Circuit questioned its timeliness.

The appellees seized on the opportunity, now arguing that the appeal was late. Relying on Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205 (2007), the Seventh Circuit agreed. It concluded that, although the appellant had relied on the extension order, the deadline under Rule 4 was “mandatory.” Thus, the extension impermissibly deprived the Court of Appeals of jurisdiction.

But the Supreme Court disagreed, stating that:

If a time prescription governing the transfer of adjudicatory authority from one Article III court to another appears in a statute, the limitation is jurisdictional . . . otherwise, the time specification fits within the claim-processing category [and is subject to forfeiture or waiver].

The statute corresponding to Rule 4, 28 U.S.C. § 2107, does not limit the length of an extension. The Supreme Court therefore concluded that the district court could extend the filing deadline.

What happens next is up in the air. The Supreme Court remanded the case. So it now falls to the lower court to decide whether the timeliness objections were forfeited or waived if not properly raised.


Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Case No. 16-658.

Taking, and Opening, a Bar in Delaware

Many of you have reached out since my last blog post with questions about my upcoming move to Delaware.  One theme definitely stands out.  Does Jeff know?  Have you told your husband?  What about Jeff?  What’s Jeff going to do?

These are fair questions, as I have often been told that I am a terrible communicator.  Take this conversation last week, for example.

Refrigerator Repairman:  The freeway traffic in California is terrible.

Me:  True:  It has gotten so bad that my ex-husband moved in with his girlfriend in Culver City so he wouldn’t have to commute to West LA.

Repairman:  Oh, is that why you’re moving to Delaware?!  I guess you’re moving alone then.

Me:  (Long pause….)  No, my EX-husband.

So for those of you who have expressed concern, yes, I told Jeff.  Yes, Jeff is coming to Delaware with me!  No, I am not just going to pack him up in the car at the last minute with the dog and the hamster.  (Hey, Jeff!  Let’s go for a ride, buddy!)  He is amazing, and supportive, and all in on the Delaware move.  (And no, he does not have a girlfriend in Culver City.)

What is Jeff doing?  One of the drawbacks about Wilmington, we have heard, is that they roll up the sidewalks at sundown and there are few good places to eat or grab a drink.  Jeff is a problem solver.  So while I’m taking the bar, my husband will be opening a bar in Wilmington!   While I’m studying bar review courses, he will be scoping out the local restaurant and bar scene, refining his concept, and finding a location.  (Hard work, right…)  Hopefully by the time I’m admitted to the Delaware bar, Jeff’s bar will be open and we’ll all have a place to celebrate!

Stay tuned for more updates as the adventure continues.


Mette K.



Chapter 11 Filing: CBS Farms

Charles Blake Stringer, d/b/a CBS Farms, has filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.  The filing indicates that CBS Farms has between $10-50 million in assets and $10-50 million in liabilities.  Its largest unsecured creditors include Hilltop Securities, PHI Financial, Wilbur Ellis Agribusiness Division, Selectplus Agline, and West Texas Gas. The case is pending in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Ft. Worth, Case #16-44871.

Mette H. Kurth

Christmas Comes Early for Bankruptcy Professionals as Federal Reserve Hikes Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve slashed rates to zero in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis.  There it remained during the Great Recession and beyond. This may be great for the economy, but it’s very disheartening if you are a bankruptcy professional.

Many of you are familiar with our rain dance.  “How is business these days,” someone at a conference asks?  Slow. “But this low-interest rate environment can’t last forever,” we say. “And when interest rates increase, then bankruptcy business will boom again.” A small gaggle of lawyers and financial advisors gathers around, theories are exchanged, and someone concludes authoritatively that interest rates will increase in the next 12-18 months. By the time next year’s conference rolls around, everyone has forgotten who made the prediction. For 8 years, this dance has been repeating itself at TMA, ABI and AIRA conferences, in bankruptcy courts, and in trustee’s offices across the country.

But this holiday season, things are different!  Today, the Federal Reserve increased its key interest rate by 0.25%. This is just the second time in a decade that the Federal Reserve has raised rates. The first was in December 2015.

And today’s rate increase could be followed by more.  If infrastructure spending sparks an inflationary demand for goods, the Federal Reserve could respond by raising rates.  The Fed has also hinted that it could begin raising rates at a faster pace, with perhaps three or more rate hikes in 2017.

The action signifies the Fed’s confidence in the improving U.S. economy following an increase in economic growth since the middle of this year.

What, exactly, it will mean for bankruptcy practitioners remains to be seen.

But it sure beats a lump of coal in your stocking….

Follow the Wall Street Journal’s live coverage here.

Mette H. Kurth




Bankruptcy Fee Schedule to Change on December 1st

The Judicial Conference of the United States approved adjustments to the miscellaneous fee schedule for bankruptcy courts. These changes become effective December 1, 2016. Click here for details on the fees affected.

Mette H. Kurth