T.S. v. State

In T.S. v. State, 2003 UT 54, 82 P.3d 1104, the Court held that "good cause" for extending the time to file an overdue notice of appeal under rule 4(e) of the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure encompasses the situation where a litigant's failure to file a timely notice of appeal is due to the violation of a statutory right to the effective assistance of counsel. Id. However, the Court also noted that "a party's own negligent or intentional acts might render rule 4(e) relief inequitable, notwithstanding a showing of ineffective assistance of counsel." Id. In T.S. v. State, the petitioner's parental rights had been terminated, and her appointed counsel had failed to file an appeal within thirty days, as required by rule 4(a) of the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure. Id. The petitioner moved to file an overdue notice of appeal, arguing that the failure should be excused due to "excusable neglect or good cause" under rule 4(e) of the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure. Id. The district court denied the motion, and the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, relying on the principle that a party is accountable for her attorney's neglectful conduct. Id. On certiorari review, the Court reversed the court of appeals, holding that "rule 4(e)'s 'good cause' exception . . . includes within its reach the unusual circumstance where a person who is entitled to appointed counsel under the Utah Code does not receive effective counsel." Id. Citing Utah Code section 78-3a-913(1)(a) (1999)--which contains language that is strikingly similar to section 78-35a-202(1)(a)--we stated that "the legislature has expressly codified a parent's right to be represented by counsel at every stage of a termination proceeding." Id. The Court noted that "the statute would be meaningless or illusory if it guaranteed only ineffective assistance of counsel. The legislature's omission of 'effective' should not be read to suggest an intent to provide only ineffective assistance of counsel." Id.