Trial Court’s Late Order Extending Time For Posttrial Motion Deprives Appellate Jurisdiction

David Wilson was in custody on a warrant for two felonies. A police detective shot Wilson while he was in an interview room at the Chicago police headquarters. Wilson sued the city and the detective. After trial, a jury ruled in favor of the city and the detective.

Within 30 days of the judgment, under section 2-1202 of the Illinois civil procedure code, Wilson asked for and received and extension of time to file a posttrial motion. Before the new deadline arrived, Wilson asked for another extension. The trial court allowed a second extension, but did not rule until after the first extension deadline passed. Wilson asked for another extension, which the trial court allowed. Then Wilson made his request for a new trial, but the court denied it. So Wilson appealed.

But the First District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the appeal because, the court said, it did not have jurisdiction. The trial court lost the power to give the second extension when the first extended deadline passed. So the second extension, coming just a day after the first extension lapsed, was null and void, as were the third extension and Wilson’s notice of appeal. This is how the appellate court explained it:

“… [A]fter the 30-day period has expired, or the extended period of time has expired, without the entry of a new order setting a new deadline, the trial court loses jurisdiction of the case.” … And, once the trial court loses jurisdiction, any subsequent orders entered, including a notice of appeal which would vest jurisdiction with our [appellate] court, are not viable.

The lesson is that requesting an extension of time to make a posttrial motion within the 30-days after the judgment, or within a court-ordered deadline, will not alone be sufficient. For trial court jurisdiction to continue, the court also must order a new deadline before the prior deadline expires. Otherwise the time to file a notice of appeal, and thus invoke the jurisdiction of the appellate court, runs from the expiration of last legitimate extension.

Read the whole case, Manning v. City of Chicago, No. 1-09-1561 (2/25/11), by clicking here.