The Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed the appeal presented in Arkansas State University v. Professional Credit Management, Inc. on March 19, 2009.
The Court determined, sua sponte, that the appeal that was taken from the district court to the circuit court was untimely because the district court record was not filed in the circuit court within 30 days of the district court’s judgment as is required by Rule 9 of the Arkansas District Court Rules.
The 30-day requirement for filing appeals from district court to circuit court is both mandatory and jurisdictional. Thus, a circuit court has no authority to accept an untimely appeal from district court. The Court held that where the time has passed for filing an appeal in circuit court, the district court order becomes final because the circuit court is whthout jurisdiction to hear the appeal that is untimely filed. Where the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to take the appeal, the appellate court also lacked subject matter jurisdiction.
The Arkansas Supreme Court also emphasized that the rules governing post trial motions for appeals from district court to circuit court “are in marked contrast to the rules governing appeals from circuit court to this court and the court of appeals.” As noted by the Court, “Rule 4 of the Arkansas Rules of Appellate Procedure–Civil provides that the deadline for filing an appeal may be extended depending on the particular posttrial motion that is filed, but there is certainly no such extension of time when filing appeals from district court to circuit court.” Rather, District Court Rule 9(a) expressly provides that the 30-day period for filing appeals from the district court to the circuit court can not be extended.
For other accounts of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s ruling in this case, see the following discussions: