Ever had opposing counsel tie you up on appeal with endless extensions after extensions? I once got tied up on an appeal taken before a final judgment where the appellant’s counsel got four extensions of time to file the opening brief. Over a year and a half passed before he filed the first brief. The case settled shortly after we responded.
Appellate Rule 263(b) of the South Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure governs extensions of time. There is really only two requirements, one written and the other from older cases.
The written requirement is that the parties may not agree to extend the time on their own. Consent from the other party is helpful, but an extension requires a court order.
The second unwritten but common sense requirement is that you must seek an extension before the time expires. This comes from older cases like Wade v. Gore, 154 S.C. 262, 151 S.E. 470 (1930). The Court in Wade set forth enduring procedures:
- seek an extension early enough, and before the time has expired, to get opposing counsel’s consent to the extension;
- seek an extension early enough for the court to rule on it before the time expires.
What makes Wade more interesting is its warning about what happens if you let the deadline slip by without moving for an extension. The Court concluded that the appeal will be dismissed and not reinstated unless the appellant shows that he or she sought an extension or had some “especially good reason” not to.