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Stelpflug v. Federal Land Bank of St. Paul

May 13, 1986

DAVID J. STELPFLUG AND SHIRLEY M. STELPFLUG, DEBTORS-APPELLANTS,
v.
FEDERAL LAND BANK OF ST. PAUL, CREDITOR-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, No. 85-C-440-S, John C. Shabaz, Judge.

Before CUMMINGS, Chief Judge, BAUER and POSNER, Circuit Judges.

Per Curiam.

David and Shirley Stelpflug, the debtors-appellants, filed a notice of appeal in the bankruptcy court following that court's granting of a motion for abandonment and relief from stay to Federal Land Bank of St. Paul, the creditor-appellee. The bankruptcy court dismissed the appeal as untimely filed and the district court affirmed. On appeal before this Court, the appellants argue that the time for filing the notice of appeal has not yet begun to run since the bankruptcy court's judgment was never entered on the docket and thus their appeal could not have been untimely filed. For the reasons discussed below, we reverse the dismissal and remand to the district court with directions to the bankruptcy court for proper entry of judgment.

I.

On November 30, 1984, the appellants filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bank Code. The appellee, which holds a first mortgage on the appellants' farm, sought abandonment and relief from stay in an application filed in the bankruptcy court on January 21, 1985. On March 11, 1985, the bankruptcy court granted the appellee's application and, on March 13, 1985, a proposed order to that effect was filed and entered on the docket.

The March 13, 1985 entry reads:

3/13 37. Order granting Federal Land Bank's application for abandonment and relief from stay. mlf **signed 3/15/85**

Although it is clear that the proposed order was entered on March 13, 1985, and signed on March 15, 1985, the date on which the notation "signed 3/15/85" was made is unclear.

The appellants filed a notice of appeal from this order in the bankruptcy court on March 28, 1985, more than ten days after the order was signed. The appellants filed no motion to extend the time for filing. On April 8, 1985, the appellee thus moved to dismiss the appeal as untimely filed. Following a hearing on April 23, 1985, the bankruptcy court granted appellee's motion to dismiss.

The appellants subsequently appealed the bankruptcy court's order dismissing their appeal to the district court. The district court affirmed the dismissal on June 28, 1985, and the appellants are now before this Court.

II.

Bankruptcy Rule 8002(a), modeled after Rule 4(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, see Bankr. R. 8002(a), Notes of advisory Committee on Rules, provides that "notice of appeal shall be filed with the clerk of the bankruptcy court within 10 days from the entry of the judgment, order or decree appealed from." When entering an order on the docket, the clerk of the bankruptcy court is required to make a notation in the docket to show the date the entry was made, pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 5003(a). ; The appellants argue that, because the clerk failed to indicate the date on which entry of judgment was made, there was no proper entry of judgment and thus the clock never started running. As in United States v. Indrelunas, 411 U.S. 216, 36 L. Ed. 2d 202, 93 S. Ct. 1562 (1973) (per curiam), here the "timeliness of [the] appeal . . .[s] on the question of when judgment was entered." Id. at 219.

"It is well settled that the requirement of a timely notice of appeal is 'mandatory and jurisdictional,'" Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 62, 103 S. Ct. 400, 74 L. Ed. 2d 225 (1982) (citing Browder v. Director, Illinois Department of Corrections, 434 U.S. 257, 264, 54 L. Ed. 2d 521, 98 S. Ct. 556 (1978)), and that "jurisdictional rules are designed to work in a mechanical fashion," Bailey v. Sharp, 782 F.2d 1366, 1368 (7th Cir. 1986).*fn1

"Entry" has a well defined meaning under the rules; it occurs only when the essentials of a judgment or order are set forth in a written document separate from the court's opinion or memorandum and when the substance of this separate document is reflected in an ...


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