The Failure of Bowles v. Russell

19 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2008 Last revised: 12 Nov 2012

Scott Dodson

University of California Hastings College of the Law


This article, written for the Supreme Court Review issue of Tulsa Law Review, critiques Bowles v. Russell - perhaps last term's most underrated case - which characterized the time to file a civil notice of appeal as jurisdictional and therefore not subject to equitable excuses for noncompliance. In so holding, the Court overstated the supporting precedent, inflated the jurisdictional importance of statutes, and undermined an important recent movement to clarify when a rule is jurisdictional and when it is not. This did not have to be. The Court missed a golden opportunity to chart a middle course holding the rule mandatory but nonjurisdictional, which would have been more consistent with precedent while resolving the case on its narrowest grounds. This Article explains where Bowles went wrong, what it should have done, and how it may affect future questions on the jurisdictionality of rules and limits.

Keywords: jurisdictionality, bowles, time limits, notice of appeal

Suggested Citation

Dodson, Scott, The Failure of Bowles v. Russell. Tulsa Law Review, Vol. 43, 2008. Available at SSRN:

Scott Dodson (Contact Author)

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States
415-581-8959 (Phone)


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