How COVID-19 Affected a Restraining Order Appeal

In this case, the First District dismissed an appeal from two orders resulting from competing requests for civil harassment restraining orders.

“Due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, the Napa County Superior Court was closed from March 18, 2020, through May 29, 2020, and pursuant to Government Code section 68115, subdivision (a)(4), and the general orders of the superior court, the days of closure were deemed “holidays.” Meanwhile, this court issued emergency and implementation orders extending the deadlines under the California Rules of Court by 30 days for events occurring within specified time frames.”

“We conclude the last day for Kirkpatrick to file a timely notice of appeal from the first two orders was June 1, 2020, the day the superior court reopened, and the last day to file a timely appeal from the third order was June 4, 2020. Kirkpatrick’s June 2, 2020, motion for reconsideration of the three orders was not a “valid” motion that extended the time to appeal. (Cal Rules of Court, rule 8.108(e).) Accordingly, Kirkpatrick’s July 14, 2020, notice of appeal was untimely, and we must dismiss the appeal.”

“…In closing, we acknowledge the unprecedented nature of the circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the hardships it may have caused. Those with filing deadlines during court closure periods had to be especially vigilant of court reopening dates, particularly in view of the harsh consequences attending untimely filings such as those here. Although we recognize the distinct possibility that some litigants may have been denied the right to appeal through no fault of their own, we leave those concerns for another day. Courts have long recognized the policy, based on the remedial character of the right of appeal, to accord that right in doubtful cases when it can be accomplished without doing violence to applicable rules. (Hollister, supra, 15 Cal.3d at p. 674; Silverbrand v. County of Los Angeles (2009) 46 Cal.4th 106, 114 [discussing ‘constructive filing’ decisions alleviating harshness of jurisdictional appeal deadline].) Here, however, Kirkpatrick does not contend she was prevented in any way from timely filing notices of appeal by June 1 or 4, 2020.”

Read the court's full opinion.

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