The facts. The Idaho Department of Labor found that Nathaniel Sheehan was ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and ordered him to repay benefits that he had received. During Sheehan’s initial protest, the Department advised Sheehan that it would email updates to him, but the Department instead mailed a notice of telephonic hearing to Sheehan’s P.O. box. The Department dismissed Sheehan’s protest after he failed to appear at the hearing, and Sheehan’s subsequent appeals were dismissed as he continued to miss filing deadlines.

The issues. The issue on appeal was whether the Idaho Industrial Commission properly declined to consider Sheehan’s untimely appeals.

The result. The Idaho Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the decision below. The Court recognized that “Sheehan presents a poignant story rife with compelling circumstances” and expressed “concern” about “the conflicting communications by IDOL.” The Court noted that it could dismiss the appeal for failure to comply with Idaho Appellate Rule 35(a)(6) because Sheehan’s brief “offer[ed] no legal authority or any cogent argument.” But even looking past those shortcomings, the Court held that the Industrial Commission did not abuse its discretion because Sheehan “persistently missed other filing deadlines” that had no connection to the Department’s miscommunications about whether it would email or mail updates on Sheehan’s original protest.

Practice Pointers.

  1.  It is critical to adhere to deadlines to file a notice of appeal. Even if a litigant has “a poignant story rife with compelling circumstances,” the Court will dismiss an untimely appeal.
  2.  Appellate briefing is extremely important—don’t wait for oral argument to present your legal arguments. Idaho Appellate Rule 35(a)(6) requires an appellant’s opening brief to “contain the contentions of the appellant with respect to the issues presented on appeal, the reasons therefor, with citations to the authorities, statutes and parts of the transcript and record relied upon.” The Court can dismiss an appeal if the opening brief fails to adequately present the appellant’s legal arguments. The Court recently raised a similar point in Gray v. Gray.