Dennis v. Cartledge
ORDER finding Dennis' explanation sufficient to rise to the level of good cause or excusable neglect to relieve him of his duty to comply with the time limit of Rule 4(a)(1) and extending the deadline by which Dennis may appeal pursuant to Rule 4(a)(5)(A). Signed by Honorable Timothy M. Cain on 10/7/2016. (bgoo)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
ROCK HILL DIVISION
Adarius Quante Dennis,
C/A No. 0:14-4637-TMC
This matter is before the court on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit to determine whether Petitioner Adarius Quante Dennis (“Dennis”) is entitled to
an extension of time to properly file a notice of appeal pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate
Procedure 4(a)(5)(A). For the reasons set forth below, it is the court’s determination that Dennis
has demonstrated excusable neglect or good cause and is entitled to an extension under Rule
A state prisoner in a federal habeas proceeding against state prison officials has thirty days
following the entry of the district court’s final judgment or order in which to file a notice of
appeal. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A). However, a district court may extend the time to file a notice
of appeal if a party moves for an extension of time to appeal within thirty days after the expiration
of the original appeal period and demonstrates excusable neglect or good cause. Fed. R. App. P.
4(a)(5)(A); Washington v. Bumgarner, 882 F.2d 899, 900-01 (4th Cir. 1989).
Dennis is a state prisoner currently housed at Perry Correctional Institute. On December 8,
2014, Dennis filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No.
1). On February 2, 2016, this court adopted United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett’s
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 32) and granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment and denied Dennis’ habeas petition with prejudice. (ECF No. 47).
Dennis filed a notice of appeal on March 21, 2016, after the expiration of the thirty-day
appeal period but within the excusable neglect period.1 On September 23, 2016, the Fourth
Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case back to this court for the limited purpose of
determining whether Dennis has demonstrated excusable neglect or good cause warranting an
extension of the thirty-day appeal period. Dennis v. Cartledge, No.16-6430 (4th Cir. Sept. 23,
2016) (ECF No. 55). The Court noted that in his Notice of Appeal, Dennis stated reasons for his
delay and arguably requested an extension of the period to file the notice of appeal. Id.
Accordingly, the court construes Dennis’ notice of appeal as a request for an extension of
time to file an appeal pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(A). Rule 4
provides that a district court “may extend the time to file a notice of appeal if: (1) a party so
moves no later than 30 days after the time prescribed by this Rule 4(a) expires; and (2) regardless
of whether its motion is filed before or during the 30 days after the time prescribed by this Rule
4(a) expires, that party shows excusable neglect or good cause.” Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5)(A). No
extension under “Rule 4(a)(5) may exceed 30 days after the prescribed time or 14 days after the
date when the order granting the motion is entered, whichever is later.” Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(5)(c).
Petitioner did not date his Notice of Appeal. (ECF No. 50). However, the envelope
containing Petitioner’s Notice of Appeal was stamped by the Perry Correctional Institution
Mailroom as having been received on March 21, 2016. (ECF No. 50-1). A pro se prisoner’s
notice of appeal is filed when the prisoner delivers it to prison authorities for forwarding to the
court. Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 276 (1988).
The “advisory committee notes to the rule make clear that the ‘good cause’ standard, which was
added to the rule in 1979, is only applicable to motions for extension of time filed within the
initial thirty-day period following the entry of judgment.” Thompson v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours
& Co., 76 F.3d 530, 532 (4th Cir. 1996) (emphasis added). Therefore, because Dennis filed his
notice of appeal, construed as a motion for extension of time, in excess of thirty days after the
entry of judgment, the court must determine whether to grant an extension under the more
stringent standard of “excusable neglect.”
In his Notice of Appeal, Dennis states that he was placed in lock-up the day after he
received the Order dismissing his Petition, and he was not allowed his legal materials or property
in lock-up. (ECF No. 50 at 1). He states he was returned to general population the day before he
filed his Notice of Appeal. Id. The court takes judicial notice that Dennis was in disciplinary
detention for 39 days beginning February 10, 2016. See South Carolina Department of
Corrections - Inmate Search, https://public.doc.state.sc.us/scdc-public (last visited September 26,
The court finds that Dennis has demonstrated excusable neglect or good cause to warrant
an extension of time. Dennis states that he was placed in “lock-up” without his legal materials
during the period in which the appeal period expired. Further, the court notes it appears that
within a day or two of being released from lock-up, Dennis filed his Notice of Appeal. Therefore,
the court finds Dennis’ explanation sufficient to rise to the level of good cause or excusable
neglect to relieve him of his duty to comply with the time limit of Rule 4(a)(1). Accordingly, the
This Court may take judicial notice of a fact that is “capable of accurate and ready
determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” See
Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)(2). See also Williams v. Long, 585 F.Supp.2d 679, 686-88 & n. 4 (D.Md.
2008) (collecting cases indicating that postings on government Web sites are inherently
authentic or self-authenticating).
court will extend the deadline by which he may appeal pursuant to Rule 4(a)(5)(A).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Timothy M. Cain
United States District Judge
Anderson, South Carolina
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