United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sonya Owens filed a voluntary Chapter 13 petition in February
2017. In re Owens, 17-bk-93 (ECF No.
At that time, she applied to pay the $310 bankruptcy filing
fee in installments. ECF No. 2. In an Order dated February
23, the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court denied that
application, explaining that Owens had failed to pay the
filing fee in a prior bankruptcy case and instructing Owens
to pay the fee in full within 14 days. B.R. 3. In a separate
order issued that day, the Clerk notified Owens that several
necessary documents were missing or deficient, and gave her
until March 2 to correct those deficiencies. ECF No. 11. On
March 8, her record was still missing documents, and the
Bankruptcy Court directed her to file them by March 22 or her
case would be dismissed. ECF No. 25. Owens filed a notice of
appeal that same day. She identified, as the subject of the
appeal, the Bankruptcy Court's “[d]ecisions
announced February 2017.” B.R. 5.
Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 8018(a)(1), Owens'
opening appellate brief was due no later than 30 days after
the docketing of the transmittal of the bankruptcy appeal
record. Her opening brief was thus due May 17, 2017. This
Court issued a minute order on August 3, 2017 informing Owens
that her brief was overdue and directing her to file an
opening brief no later than August 24. She has not done so,
nor has she provided an explanation for her failure to file
the brief or sought an extension of time.
an appellant fails to file a brief on time or within an
extended time authorized by the district court, ” the
court, “after notice, may dismiss the appeal on its own
motion.” Fed.R.Bankr.P. 8018(a)(4). Owens' brief is
over five months overdue and it has been over two months
since the deadline the Court imposed in its August minute
order. She has declined to offer any explanation for the
delay. Dismissal is therefore warranted under the Bankruptcy
given that Owens is proceeding pro se, and that she
included legal argument in her notice of appeal-which is
styled as a “Notice of Appeal and Complaint”-the
Court has considered the arguments raised in her notice. And
it finds that dismissal is independently warranted for lack
alleges, in essence, that the Bankruptcy Court improperly
denied her request to pay the filing fee in installments;
that the Court's orders had no binding effect because
they were entered by the Deputy Clerk of the Bankruptcy
Court; that her first installment payment was taken and used
for other purposes; that the Bankruptcy Court falsely
identified deficiencies in her filings; and that the
foregoing problems amount to due process violations. Notice
of Appeal & Compl. 1-4.
Court seriously doubts the soundness of these claims on the
merits. But, in any event, the Court lacks jurisdiction to
review the interlocutory case-management orders that Owens
has appealed. A party in a bankruptcy case may appeal, as of
right, “final judgments, orders, and decrees” of
a bankruptcy court. 28 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). But the
district court must grant leave before reviewing
interlocutory orders like those Owens has appealed here.
Id. § 158(a)(3).
has not requested leave and, even if she had, the Court would
deny it. Leave to appeal an interlocutory order is warranted
only where the order appealed “involves a controlling
question of law as to which there is substantial ground for
difference of opinion.” In re Beitzell & Co.,
Inc., 1991 WL 283141, at *2 (D.D.C. Dec. 20, 1991)
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b)); see also 28
U.S.C. § 158(c) (“An appeal [of a bankruptcy court
order] shall be taken in the same manner as appeals in civil
proceedings generally are taken to the courts of appeals from
the district courts.”). The ministerial orders that
Owens has appealed, which relate to filing fees and
deficiencies in her filings, raise no substantive legal
true that, while Owens' notice of appeal was pending, the
Bankruptcy Court in April 2017 dismissed Owens' case. It
did so based on her failure to respond to the court's
February order instructing her to file a necessary form about
her social security numbers. ECF No. 42; see also
ECF No. 34 (show cause order). But the Court cannot, based on
Owens' notice of appeal of the interlocutory orders
issued in February, simply review the Bankruptcy Court's
subsequent dismissal of her case, which she has not appealed.
While a premature notice of appeal from “certain
nonfinal decisions” can “serve as an effective
notice from a subsequently entered final judgment, ”
the Rules do not permit “a notice of appeal from a
clearly interlocutory decision to serve as a notice
of appeal from the final judgment.” FirsTier Mortg.
Co. v. Investors Mortg. Ins. Co., 498 U.S. 269, 274, 276
(1991) (emphasis added) (interpreting Federal Rule of
Appellate Procedure 4(a)(2)); see Fed.R.Bankr.P.
8002 advisory comm. n. (“This rule is an adaptation of
Rule 4(a) F.R.App.P.”). Rather, the Court could allow
Owens' premature notice to ripen only if she appealed a
decision that “would be appealable if immediately
followed by the entry of judgment.” FirsTier,
498 U.S. at 276 (emphasis omitted). The interlocutory orders
that Owens attacks-several of which have nothing to do with
the ultimate reason for dismissal-are not of that nature.
that this appeal is DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.
ORDERED. This is a final, appealable order.