Acosta v. Louisiana Dep't of Health & Human Resources

In Acosta v. Louisiana Dep't of Health & Human Resources, 478 U.S. 251, 106 S.Ct. 2876, 92 L.Ed.2d 192 (1986) (per curiam), the Court was called upon to resolve a conflict between this court and the Ninth Circuit regarding whether Fed.R.App.P. rule 4(a)(4)'s command that "a notice of appeal filed before the disposition of a rule 59 motion shall have no effect" renders void a notice of appeal filed after announcement of the decision on the motion but before entry of a formal order. The Court disagreed with the Ninth Circuit's view that "disposition" in the rule is synonymous with "announcement" and that hence a notice of appeal could be given effect if filed anytime after the district court's announcement of its decision on the rule 59 motion.6 Instead, the Court affirmed our dismissal of the appeal. It reasoned that rule 4(a)(4) constitutes an exception to the general directive in rule 4(a)(2) that a notice of appeal is effective if filed in the interim between "announcement" and "entry." The Ninth Circuit's Calhoun rule essentially reads the first clause of subdivision (a)(2) out of Rule 4 by holding that Rule 4(a)(4) does not constitute such an exception. But if subdivision (a)(2) is taken seriously, it is untenable to read subdivision (a)(4) except as the Fifth Circuit has read it in this case: that is, as establishing the rule that a notice of appeal is ineffective unless filed after entry of judgment on a Rule 59 motion or any of the other motions to which the subdivision applies. (478 U.S. at 254, 106 S.Ct. at 2878.)