Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Government's failure to file motion for reconsideration of suppression ruling within 30 days deprived Third Circuit of jurisdiction over interlocutory appeal

In United States v. Kalb, Appeal No. 17-1333 (3d Cir. May 31, 2018), the Third Circuit considered whether it had jurisdiction to hear the Government's interlocutory appeal under 18 U.S.C. § 3731 where the Government filed a motion for reconsideration of a suppression ruling after the 30-day time period for filing an appeal under § 3731. Defendant Kalb successfully argued for suppression of evidence obtained from him after police stopped his vehicle. The district court granted Kalb's motion to suppress on October 21, 2016 and filed a written opinion three days later. On November 29, 2016, the government filed a motion to reconsider. The district court denied the government's motion to reconsider on the merits, rejecting Kalb's argument that the government's motion for reconsideration was untimely because the government sought leave to review the transcript of the suppression hearing within the 30-day period.

Typically, the 30-day appeal period under § 3731 begins when a suppression order is entered on the docket. If the government timely seeks reconsideration of the order, however, the order is rendered non-final until the court decides the motion for reconsideration. The 30-day appeal period runs from an order denying a timely motion for reconsideration. On appeal, the Third Circuit concluded that the 30-day limitation period for filing an appeal under § 3731 is jurisdictional. It further concluded that the government must file a motion for reconsideration within § 3731's 30-day time period for the motion to keep the 30-day appeal period from expiring. Here, because the government's motion for reconsideration was not filed until the 30-day appeal period had elapsed, the suppression order remained final and the Court lacked jurisdiction over the government's appeal of the district court's suppression order.

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