Common sense is not always as common as one may wish. This is particularly true in legal matters. Two Minnesota men who were committed for treatment in a secure facility as sexual offenders learned that lesson the hard way.
One argued that he had successfully completed treatment and that he was unlawfully being kept, for all intents and purposes, incarcerated. The other claimed that he was not being treated at all, as the commitment law required. Both started proceeding without a lawyer using something called “Rule 60.” The title of that rule is “Relief from Judgment” so it made common sense that they should seek relief from their commitment judgments that way.
Neither knew that another rule, Rule 81, let certain laws take over for the rules of procedure, including Rule 60. And sure enough, the law regulating sexual offenders’ commitment is one of those laws. The two men should have petitioned a Review Board and ultimately a three-judge panel. Having failed to do that, and used instead a procedure that did not apply, both lost their cases without even being heard.
This somewhat outlandish story illustrates matters applicable to businesses and appeals as well. How to start a lawsuit? How to start an appeal? What can be appealed? Will a bond be required if a defendant appeals a decision against them? If so, can it be waived? Can you appeal before trial is over? If so, when? Legal waters are full of contrary currents.
Common sense would be to ask a good lawyer.