Friday, November 2, 2007

October 11, 2007


Every few weeks or so, a loopy Appeals Court decision causes members of the bar to collectively shake their heads across the Commonwealth. This is such a case. There’s a regulation governing administrative procedure stating that documents are deemed filed on the day that they are postmarked. The Division of Unemployment Assistance follows this regulation. An employee must “file” his or her appeal of an adverse unemployment decision within thirty days of receiving it. But for some odd reason, the “postmark” rule doesn’t apply to these appeals. Why? Apparently because “file” means “file” unless it means “file” in which case it doesn’t mean “file”.

Perhaps the most emblematic passage of the entire decision appears in footnote 6: “Rule 3 states, in relevant part, that ‘[a] civil action is commenced by (1) mailing to the clerk of the proper court by certified or registered mail a complaint and an entry fee prescribed by law, or (2) filing such complaint and an entry fee with such clerk.’ At least for the purposes of this rule, mailing and filing are obviously not the same thing.” Obviously!

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