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HOWARD JAMES MOORE v. SOUTH CAROLINA LABOR BOARD </h1> <p class="docCourt"> </p> <p> November 19, 1996 </p> <p class="case-parties"> <b>HOWARD JAMES MOORE, APPELLANT<br><br>v.<br><br>SOUTH CAROLINA LABOR BOARD, ET AL.</b><br><br> </p> <div class="caseCopy"> <div class="facLeaderBoard"> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- google_ad_client = "ca-pub-1233285632737842"; /* FACLeaderBoard */ google_ad_slot = "8524463142"; google_ad_width = 728; google_ad_height = 90; //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> </script> </div class="facLeaderBoard"> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p><br> Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (95cv00837)</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> Before: Wald, Williams, and Rogers, Circuit Judges.</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> PER CURIAM</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> FOR PUBLICATION</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> Opinion for the Court filed Per Curiam.</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> This case raises the question whether the "unique circumstances" doctrine may be invoked to excuse a party's failure to file a timely notice of appeal, where the party missed the applicable deadline by relying on erroneous information received from clerk's office staff.</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> Because we conclude that the unique circumstances exception applies only where a party who could have filed a timely notice of appeal is lulled into missing the deadline by a formal court order or ruling, containing specific assurances that action which extends or postpones the deadline has properly been taken, we are obliged to dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.</p></div> <div class="facAdFloatLeft"> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- google_ad_client = "ca-pub-1233285632737842"; /* FACContentLeftSkyscraperWide */ google_ad_slot = "1266897617"; google_ad_width = 160; google_ad_height = 600; //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"></script> </div class="facLeaderBoard"> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> I.</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> Howard Moore, proceeding pro se, filed suit in the district court against his employer, a Greenwood, South Carolina packing plant, and several South Carolina governmental agencies. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Thirty-nine days after the order dismissing Moore's complaint had been entered on the district court's docket, Moore filed a notice of appeal. Because no federal agency or officer had been a party to the action, the notice of appeal should have been filed within thirty days after entry of the district court's order. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1).</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> Unaware that his notice of appeal was untimely, Moore did not move the district court for an extension of the notice deadline, as is permitted by Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5). <a href="#D*fn1" name="S*fn1">*fn1</a> Shortly after the time for seeking an extension of the notice period had passed, this court ordered Moore to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> Moore claims in response that he failed to file his notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the district court's order, because a staff person in the district court clerk's office told him he had sixty days within which to file his notice, based on the fact that a government agency was among the parties to the suit. Taking Moore's allegations as true, they nonetheless are insufficient to permit this appeal to proceed.</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"><p> II.</p></div> <div class="numbered-paragraph"> <p> In general, the time limit established by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a) for noting an appeal of an order of the district court is mandatory and jurisdictional. See Browder v. Director, Dep't of Corrections of Illinois, <a>434 U.S. 257</a>, 264 (1978). The Supreme Court has recognized a narrow exception, however, known as the unique circumstances doctrine, under which appellate courts will excuse an untimely notice of appeal where the appellant could have filed a timely notice but was misled to delay filing by a court order or ruling which purportedly extended or tolled the appeal deadline. See, e.g., Wolfsohn v. Hankin, <a>376 U.S. 203</a> (1964); Thompson v. INS, <a>375 U.S. 384</a> ...</p> </div> </div> </div> <div id="caseToolTip" class="caseToolTip" style="display: none;"> <div class="toolTipHead"> </div> <div class="toolTipContent"> <p> Our website includes the first part of the main text of the court's opinion. To read the entire case, you must purchase the decision for download. With purchase, you also receive any available docket numbers, case citations or footnotes, dissents and concurrences that accompany the decision. 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