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California Extends prison Mailbox Rule to Civil Filings

The California Supreme Court has held that the prison-delivery rule, also known as the prison mailbox rule, applies to a self-represented prisoner’s filing of a notice of appeal in a civil case, just as it has long been held to apply to the filing of such a notice in a criminal case.

Peter Silverbrand, a prisoner at the California State Prison in Los Angeles County, filed a medical malpractice suit against medical-care providers at both the prison where he was housed and an outside hospital. After the trial court granted the hospital defendants’ motion for summary judgment, Silverbrand appealed the judgment against him by submitting a notice of appeal, with a proof of service and in accordance with established prison procedures, one day before the 60-day deadline established by the California Rules of Court. The notice was not stamped “filed” by the clerk of the court, however, until two days after the filing deadline. Ultimately, the appellate court agreed with the defendants that the notice of appeal had not been timely filed.

On review, the California Supreme Court held that the same policy considerations which support application of the prison-delivery rule to the filing of a notice of appeal in a criminal context (i.e., self-represented prisoners must depend on their keepers for the processing and mailing of their legal filings) also support application of that rule in the civil context. See Silverbrand v. County of Los Angeles, 46 Cal.4th 106 (CA S.Ct. 2009).

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Related legal case

Silverbrand v. County of Los Angeles