KOSRAE STATE COURT
TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Charley v. Cornelius ,
5 FSM Intrm. 316 (Kos. S.CT. Tr. 1992)

[5 FSM Intrm. 316]

LUCIUS CHARLEY
Appellant,
 
v.

RHODA CORNELIUS,
Appellee.

KSC 29-89

OPINION
 
Before Honorable Edward C. King
Temporary Justice
Kosrae State Court
May 26, 1992

APPEARANCES:
For the Appellant:     Patrick Olter
                                   Trial Assistant
                                   Office of the Public Defender
                                   Tofol, Kosrae  FM 96944

For the Appellee:     Delson Ehmes
                                   Directing Attorney
                                   Micronesia Legal Services Corp.
                                   Kolonia, Pohnpei  FM 96941

*    *    *    *

HEADNOTES
Statutes of Limitations
     Strong policy considerations favor terminating disputes and upholding the finality of a decision when the party attempting to appeal has failed to act in timely fashion.  Charley v. Cornelius, 5 FSM Intrm. 316, 317-18 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1992).

[5 FSM Intrm. 317]

Statutes of Limitations
     Time requirements set by court rules are more subject to relaxation than are those established by statute.  Charley v. Cornelius, 5 FSM Intrm. 316, 318 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1992).

Appeal and Certiorari; Statutes of Limitations
     When a time requirement has been statutorily established courts are generally without jurisdiction to hear an appeal authorized by statute unless the appeal is filed within the time prescribed by statute.  Charley v. Cornelius, 5 FSM Intrm. 316, 318 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 1992).

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COURT'S OPINION
EDWARD C. KING, as Kosrae State Court Associate Justice1:
     Appellant Lucius Charley is here attempting to appeal from a determination of ownership rendered by the Kosrae Land Commission Office concerning land in Kosrae.  Unfortunately his notice of appeal was filed some 41 days later than the time authorized by statute of appeal.  For the reasons disclosed here the Court has concluded that this tardiness is fatal and that the appeal must be dismissed.

I.  Legal Analysis
     KC. 11.614 reads as follows:

A determination of ownership by the Commission is subject to appeal to the Court within one hundred twenty days from the date of receipt of notice of the determination.  The Court hears an appeal on the record unless it finds that good cause exists for a trial of the matter.

     Mr. Charley filed his notice of appeal 161 days after service upon him of the determination of ownership, some 41 days after the 120-day deadline had expired.

     This Court has not previously determined whether untimely filing of an appeal from a determination of land ownership requires that the appeal be dismissed.  However, the FSM Supreme Court, in dismissing an appeal filed later than the time permitted by the court rules, has emphasized that strong policy considerations favor terminating disputes and upholding the finality of

[5 FSM Intrm. 318]

a decision when the party attempting to appeal has failed to act in timely fashion.
 
    The interest protected by having exact time limits is in the finality of judgments.  There are several reasons why courts see this interest in preserving the final effect of judgments as important.  First, the final resolution of legal conflict should be useful in ending festering and troublesome disputes and restoring order between the disputants and those around them.  Second, the final determination of rights frees the prevailing party to exercise the rights which were at tissue and allows any contested resource to be used efficiently.  Third, finality is intended to prevent both the parties and governmental institutions from devoting still more resources to the dispute itself.

    While the paramount goal is to provide a full and fair opportunity for the parties to be heard and to reach an enlightened result understandable to all of the parties, an important subsidiary goal is to end the litigation itself and to reach a final decision.

Jonas v. Mobil Oil Micronesia, Inc., 2 FSM Intrm. 164, 166 (App. 1986).

     The Jonas case involved timing requirements established by court rule.  As a general proposition time requirements set by court rule are more subject to relaxation than are those established by statute.  Schacht v. United States, 398 U.S. 58, 64, 90 S. Ct. 1555, 1559, 26 L. Ed. 2d 44, 49 (1970) ("The procedural rules adopted by the Court for the orderly transaction of its business are not jurisdictional and can be relaxed by the Court in the exercise of its discretion when the ends of justice so require."); see also Harris Truck Lines, Inc. v. Republic National Life Ins. Co., 371 U.S. 215, 217, 83 S. Ct. 283, 285, 9 L. Ed. 2d 261, 263 (1962).

     The 120-day limit for appealing from determinations of ownership has been established by statute.  In great part because a statutory time requirement is established by another branch of the government, courts generally consider themselves without jurisdiction to hear an appeal authorized by statute unless the appeal is filed within the time prescribed by the statute.2

[5 FSM Intrm. 319]

     In the case before the Court today, the only explanation offered by the appellant, that he had approached several trial counselors that none were willing to take his case, is weakly put forward, without elaboration or detailed support.  In any event, such an explanation is inadequate to overcome the strong considerations in favor of adhering to time requirements set by statute.  The appellant has not shown, under any standard, reason to justify the forty-one day delay.

     Accordingly, the appellee's motion to dismiss this appeal, with prejudice, is granted.
*    *    *    *
 
Footnotes:
 
1.  Edward C. King, Chief Justice of the Federated States of Micronesia Supreme Court, was designated by Kosrae State Court Chief Justice Lyndon Cornelius to serve as Kosrae State Associate Justice in this case.

2.One exception to the rule against extending a time period set by statute is that the statutorily created time filing requirements for notices of intent to sue in discrimination cases has been determined to be subject to tolling and estoppel.  See Dartt v. Shell Oil Co., 539 F.2d 1256 (10th Cir. 1976), aff'd, 434 U.S. 99, 98 S. Ct. 600, 54 L. Ed. 2d 270 (1977).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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