Reminders of two well-established appellate procedure principles
This appeal provides updated and useful reminders about two points of appellate jurisdiction. First, the appellee brought a motion to dismiss one of two consolidated appeals for lack of jurisdiction, which a motion panel denied. However, a separate panel that decided the case noted that it had an independent duty to determine whether the court has jurisdiction and to dismiss the appeal if jurisdiction is lacking. This is consistent with the rule that lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any time (even after an appellate court enters judgment) and that an appellate panel has an obligation to determine that it has jurisdiction before deciding the case.
Upon its consideration of appellate jurisdiction, the panel found it lacking because the notice of appeal was filed too late. Without a timely-filed postjudgment motion, a trial court loses jurisdiction over a case 30 days after the entry of a final judgment terminating the litigation. In this case, the final judgment was entered on September 2. The only motion filed within 30 days after the September 2 order was the plaintiff’s motion for an extension of time to file a motion challenging the judgment. That motion was not a postjudgment motion by definition because it was not directed against the judgment and did not request one or more of the types of relief specified in 735 ILCS 5/2-1203.
The court noted that if a party files a motion for extension of time to file a postjudgment motion, the circuit court loses jurisdiction if it does not extend the deadline before the expiration of the 30-day period following the final judgment. In this case, the circuit court ruled on the motion for extension of time on November 8, well past 30 days after the final judgment. Accordingly, the circuit court’s November 8 order purporting to extend the time to file a postjudgment motion, was entered “without jurisdiction and is a nullity.” Because the 30-day appeal period ran without effective action in the circuit court to extend it, a notice of appeal filed after that time came too late to confer jurisdiction on the appellate court.
Mo v. Hergan, 2012 IL App (1st) 113179.