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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

No Exception to Plaintiff Over Late E-Filing

CHICAGO (CN) - A man who missed a filing deadline by three hours should not have received an extension, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Illinois resident John Justice electronically filed a motion with the court at 3 a.m. on Nov. 23, 2011. The deadline was Nov. 22.

Justice had moved for reconsideration of a lawsuit that the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a month earlier, regarding six unregistered guns that Cicero police seized from him in 2006.

Justice's complaint quoted Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison and other prominent historical figures to support his claims, which effectively amounted to a challenge of gun-ownership restrictions. He said the town had infringed on his Second Amendment and due-process rights.

Though the Justice's 2011 motion for reconsideration was technically late, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly deemed it timely, calling the decision a "nunc pro tunc" ruling.

Judges use the doctrine frequently to rectify clerical errors, but Kennelly modified history in Justice's case, rather than correcting an error.

Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit implied that it would take a dim view of Justice's case.

"A judge who lacks the authority to grant an extension of time ... can't achieve the same end by calling the extension a 'nunc pro tunc order' and backdating a document," Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the three-judge panel on June 5.

After calling on Justice explain what extraordinary circumstances justified reconsideration of the dismissal, the court found Friday that his performance was less than adequate.

"Justice has filed a memorandum, but he did not address that question," the court's unsigned opinion states. "Instead he explained why he filed his post-judgment motion more than 28 days after the district court's decision. That subject is not relevant."

"Justice has not even attempted to explain to this court where the district judge erred, let alone what 'extraordinary' circumstances justify reopening the judgment."

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