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Appeals Court: Sorry, We Lost Your Case
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In a recent opinion, an appeals court apologized for not taking action on a case for several years—due to the fact that it lost the file.

Summary: In a recent opinion, an appeals court apologized for not taking action on a case for several years—due to the fact that it lost the file.

According to the Wall Street Journal, an appeals court recently apologized after it misplaced a case—for five years.


The case is Jones v. Harris Associates. Due to bureaucratic error, the file was lost in a mountain of paperwork. Since so much time had passed, the attorneys involved, though they were confused for some time as to what was going on, eventually stopped asking about it.

The Supreme Court justices have said they want nothing to do with technology.

The case was not a small one—in fact, it even received a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Wikipedia, the case was heard by the Supreme Court in 2009. The case involves the ability of investors to sue mutual fund firms over their fees.

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In 2010, the Supreme Court asked judges on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to look again at the claims made by investors against Harris Associates. The justices told the judges to use a different standard when they determined whether the fees were excessive.

A man illegally practiced law in New York for fifteen years.

The parties filed position papers that year, and then the attorneys waited…and waited…and waited.

James C. Bradley, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said, “After a couple of years, it seemed odd to us. We didn’t know what was causing the delay.”

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Bradley said he would check in once in a while with the court. He said, “I asked if it had fallen through the cracks and was told no, it hadn’t.”

While waiting for a decision, one of the three judges on the panel, Terence Evans, died.

An attorney was disbarred for “inexplicable incompetence.”

However, with no warning, the case reappeared on Thursday with a ruling for the defendants. At the end of the opinion, the judges apologized: “[P]apers were placed in the wrong stack and forgotten,” the opinion said. “The court’s internal system for tracking cases under advisement does not include remands from the Supreme Court, so the normal process of alerts and ticklers failed. We will see to it that this is fixed. That may be small comfort to these litigants and their lawyers, but at least some good will come from the delay.”

You can read the opinion in its entirety on the Wall Street Journal website.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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