SCOA: Now or Never for Immediately Appealable Interlocutory Orders

This is a very significant mid-2011 case.

In the case, In re Estate of Stinnett, 2011 Ark. 278, — S.W.3d —-, decided on June 23, 2011, the supreme court held that an interlocutory order which is immediately appealable per Ark. R.App. P.–Civ. 2(a) can only be appealed within the time specified in Ark. R.App. P.–Civ. 4.

Appellant’s notice of appeal was filed within 30 days after the circuit court’s final distribution order, but appellant’s only point for reversal was a challenge to an earlier order striking a filing made by appellant.

The supreme court held that since the earlier order was immediately appealable, either as an order striking a pleading or as an immediately appealable probate order per A.C.A. § 28-1-116, the time frame in which it could have been appealed was 30 days. Appellant’s appeal was thus untimely.

Prior to this decision, the consensus was that an interlocutory order which is immediately appealable (most interlocutory orders are not) could either be appealed right away or the party could wait and challenge that order on appeal after a final order is issued.

That appears to no longer be the case. Under Stinnett, if an order is one of those that Ark. R.App. P.–Civ. 2(a) says is immediately appealable, it cannot be challenged on appeal unless it is appealed within the Rule 4 time frame (usually 30 days).

Arkansas Judiciary link (pdf).