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First-Class Mail Insufficient for Mailing Date to be Filing Date in Oregon

by Mark Wilson

The Oregon Court of Appeals held on July 31, 2019 that first-class mail is insufficient to allow a mailing date to serve as the filing date for a notice of appeal.

The timely filing of a notice of appeal is a jurisdictional prerequisite for an appeal under Oregon law. The notice must be filed within 30 days of the date of entry of the judgment in the case register, unless the deadline is on a weekend or holiday.

Allison Chapman was convicted of two motor vehicle violations and the trial court entered its judgment in the register on June 8, 2018. Her notice of appeal was due by July 8, 2018. Since that was a Sunday, the notice would be considered timely filed if received the following day.

Chapman mailed her notice of appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals by first-class mail. The “postage validation imprint” on the envelope indicated that she submitted her notice for mailing on the filing deadline of July 9, 2018. The Appellate Court Administrator received the notice on July 11, two days after the deadline.

The Appellate Commissioner dismissed Chapman’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction due to the late filing. She sought reconsideration, arguing that a recent amendment to ORS 19.260(1) permits the court to treat the mailing date as the filing date.

The en banc Court of Appeals allowed reconsideration but affirmed the dismissal after engaging in an extensive statutory construction analysis.

The appellate court found that ORS 19.260(1) allows the mailing date to serve as the filing date when the notice of appeal is mailed by registered or certified mail or “by a class of delivery calculated to achieve delivery within three calendar days.”

Noting that the U.S. Postal Service describes first-class mail as achieving delivery within “1-3 business days,” the Court of Appeals found that “business days” are different than calendar days, in that the former excludes weekends and holidays while the latter does not.

“As a consequence, ordinary first-class mail is not a class of delivery that is calculated to achieve delivery in three calendar days,” the Court wrote. “Because defendant chose to mail her notice by a class of delivery that is not calculated to achieve delivery in three calendar days, she chose a class of delivery that does not provide a means of filing upon mailing under ORS 19.260(1)(a)(B).” Therefore, Chapman’s filing date did not relate back to the date she mailed her notice of appeal, and the court lacked jurisdiction to consider it. See: State v. Chapman, 298 Or App 603, 448 P.3d 721 (Or. App. 2019) (en banc). 

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Related legal case

State v. Chapman