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Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (Argument October 10, 2017)


This case gets to the heart of what it means to be a lawyer.

Jurisdiction and procedural rules can be very abstract, but they often get to the essence of our government system.

In Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, the plaintiff, an employee of NHSC, sued for employment discrimination. After losing, she had 30 days to file an appeal. She requested an extension, which is permitted, but the court gave her an extension that was longer than a court rule allows.


Relying on that extension, Hamer filed her appeal. But the appeals court said it could not accept the case because the filing was too late.

Basically, the lower court gave Hamer permission to file late, but the appeals court did not honor it.

The appeals court said that the rule defining the filing limit is “jurisdictional,” so even if it seems unfair, the appeals court is unable to give an exception.

In this case, the Supreme Court will determine whether that rule is “jurisdictional.”

If not, the court may be able to give an exception in a case such as this, or the rule potentially could be waived or forfeited by the other side.

Procedural History

This case came from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiff’s (Hamer’s) appeal was dismissed in the 7th Circuit, and she is appealing that dismissal.

More information

For more information on this case and the arguments on either side, see this Argument Preview on SCOTUSblog.

About the Author

Mariam Morshedi

Mariam Morshedi

Mariam Morshedi is the Founder and Executive Director of Subscript Law. Before starting Subscript Law, she practiced civil rights law for AARP Foundation, where she litigated housing, consumer and disability rights issues.

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