BECKER v. MONTGOMERY

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
00-6374
Petitioner 
Becker
Respondent 
Montgomery
Advocates
(Was invited to brief and argue as amicus curiae in support of judgment below)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Dale G. Becker, an Ohio prisoner, instituted a pro se civil rights action to contest the conditions of his confinement. Ultimately, the District Court dismissed Becker's complaint. In appealing, Becker, still pro se, filed his notice of appeal using a government-printed form, on which he filled in all of the required information. On the line labeled "Counsel for Appellant" Becker typed, but did not sign, his name. The form contained no indication of a signature requirement. The District Court docketed the notice, sent a copy to the Court of Appeals, and granted Becker leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals, after notifying Becker that the court would not hold him to the same standards it required of attorneys in stating his case, dismissed the appeal on its own motion. The court held that the notice of appeal was fatally defective because it was not signed.

Question 

When a party files a timely notice of appeal in district court, does the failure to sign the notice of appeal require the court of appeals to dismiss the appeal?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Becker, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including Appellate Procedure (or relevant rules of a circuit court)

No. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court held that when a party files a timely notice of appeal in district court, the failure to sign the notice does not require the court of appeals to dismiss the appeal. Justice Ginsburg wrote for the Court that "if the notice is timely filed and adequate in other respects, jurisdiction will vest in the court of appeals, where the case may proceed so long as the appellant promptly supplies the signature once the omission is called to his attention."

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BECKER v. MONTGOMERY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 11 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_6374>.
BECKER v. MONTGOMERY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_6374 (last visited September 11, 2014).
"BECKER v. MONTGOMERY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 11, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_6374.