In Iowa, can errors in a decree by a district Judge allow the appealing party to appeal past the normal appeal period?

Without revealing the specific codes referenced in the Iowa Code library, the Judge made several crime code errors in the decree. I'm not an attorney, but even I'm able to tell which codes he was referring to in his ruling (even after the errors). Can the other party appeal the decision after the appeal period has elapsed due to an error like this by the Judge?

  • 2
    It almost certainly depends on what the judge was supposed to say and what he actually said. More detail would help you get a more useful answer.
    – bdb484
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 23:39

2 Answers 2



Generally speaking, the deadline to appeal a decision is jurisdictional.

The exact details of the rules differ depending upon the jurisdiction in which the case was conducted. Colorado's rules are not precisely the same as California's, the federal rules are different again, and the rules are slightly different in civil, criminal, and other kinds of cases (mostly administrative law cases).

Sometimes, failure to meet a deadline to appeal can be excused for "excusable neglect", which is a very high standard. Generally, excusable neglect must involve circumstances that made an appeal (or a timely request for an extension of time to appeal) impossible and were beyond any reasonable ability of the party seeking to appeal the decision to control.

For example, if a natural disaster shut down the courts in the week leading up to the deadline, or if the attorney for the party seeking to appeal died shortly before the deadline, this could constitute excusable neglect. There is often a limit on the duration of the extension that is available even then (e.g. 30 days).

In the case of a judgment that is not appealed, it is still possible to bring a post-judgment motion to set aside the final judgment in the case in the trial court that entered the judgment (in the federal rules of civil procedure this is codified at Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 in civil cases and in a parallel provision of the rules of criminal procedure that was historically denominated as a habeas corpus petition) for grounds such as correction of a clerical error or newly discovered evidence.

There is a time limit on most grounds for this relief set forth in these rules, although some grounds, such as a claim that the court lacked of jurisdiction over the case, can be raised at any time.

Errors regarding legal conclusions made by a judge that are manifestly apparent on the face of the decree issued by the judge almost never fall within the exceptions for which a motion to set aside a judgment after it is final and the appeal deadline has lapsed (or an independent legal action to do so) is available.

Exceptions might apply if the judge in a criminal case in Iowa failed to advise the defendant of the defendant's right to appeal. See Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure § 2.23(3)(e). Also, illegal criminal sentences and clerical errors in a judgment in a criminal case may be corrected at any time. See Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure §§ 2.23(3)(g) and 2.24(5)(a).

  • 3
    I think this is largely correct. One notable exception would be in cases where the law requires a court's decision to include language advising the parties of their appeal rights. In such instances, the judge's omission of that disclosure may permit the party to file out of time.
    – bdb484
    Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 0:08
  • 2
    Fair point. Iowa's rules of criminal procedure do require that in criminal cases. See Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure § 2.23(3)(e). ecb.europa.eu/euro/coins/1euro/html/index.en.html
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 0:20

can errors in a decree by a district Judge allow appealing party to appeal past the normal appeal period?

Errors that you claim a judge has made are the reason to allow you to appeal in the first place — within the normal appeal period. If not for claiming errors, you won't have a standing to appeal at all.

Excededing the appeal deadline may only be allowed in some exceptional circumstances — usually those beyond your control that prevented you from filing the appeal in time.

  • Errors by the judge, or the prosecution, or the defense.
    – Vikki
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 7:08

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