Tripati v. Forwith (11/3/2009)
Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That An Appellant Must Obtain a Signed Order Denying a Motion for New Trial Before Filing a Notice of Appeal, and that a Motion for New Trial May Extend the Time to File a Notice of Appeal When It is Used to Challenge the Denial of a Rule 60(c) Motion.
Tripati, an inmate, filed a complaint against Corrections staff. The trial court granted summary judgment against Tripati and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Six months later, Tripati filed a motion, which the trial court treated as a motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(c). In a signed minute entry, the trial court denied Tripati’s Rule 60(c) motion. Tripati timely filed a motion for new trial pursuant to Rule 59(a), which the trial court also denied in an unsigned minute entry. Tripati thereafter requested that the trial court issue a signed order denying his motion for new trial, which the trial court denied. Tripati filed a notice of appeal, but requested that the Appeals court remand for a signed order denying his motion for new trial. A motions panel of the Appeals Court denied that request. Prior to considering the merits of Tripati’s appeal, the merits panel addressed whether Tripati needed a signed order denying his Rule 59(a) motion. The merits panel disagreed with the motions panel, concluding that Tripati did need a signed order. Thus, the merits panel suspended the appeal to give Tripati an opportunity to obtain a signed order. After Tripati was able to do so, this appeal followed.
First, the Appeals Court, explaining why it disagreed with the motions panel regarding the need for a signed order, held that it does not possess jurisdiction over an appeal from the denial of a motion for new trial until the trial court has issued a signed order reflecting the denial. An unsigned minute entry is insufficient. The Court reasoned that a motion for new trial ordinarily tolls the time for filing a notice of appeal until entry of an order granting or denying the motion, and A.R.C.A.P. 9(b) states that entry of an order only occurs when a signed written order is filed with the clerk of court. Second, the Court held that a motion for new trial may challenge the denial of a Rule 60(c) motion, and that filing such a motion tolls the time for filing a notice of appeal. Although Tripati’s notice of appeal was, therefore, timely, the Court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s denial of Tripati’s Rule 60(c) and 59(a) motions.