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Sotomayor v. Sotomayor-Munoz

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division

March 28, 2016

Mary Anna Sotomayor, Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
Pauline Sotomayor-Muñoz, Defendant/Appellant.

Appeal from the Superior Court in Pima County No. C20151321 The Honorable Charles V. Harrington, Judge

Bridegroom & Hayes, Tucson By Bruce D. Bridegroom Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee

Quarles & Brady LLP, Tucson By Marian Conrad LaLonde and Scott S. Simonson Counsel for Defendant/Appellant

Chief Judge Eckerstrom authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Vásquez and Judge Espinosa concurred.

OPINION

ECKERSTROM, Chief Judge:

¶1Appellant Pauline Sotomayor-Muñoz (Muñoz) appeals from the trial court's judgment and denial of her motion to set aside the judgment in this eviction action. Because we conclude this court lacks jurisdiction, we dismiss the appeal.

Factual and Procedural Background

¶2In March 2015, Mary Anna Sotomayor, Muñoz's mother, filed an eviction complaint, contending Muñoz wrongfully occupied her real property and had "fraudulently appropriated" more than $200, 000 in property. Muñoz filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that her mother had initiated multiple eviction actions against her when the case was in fact an ownership dispute that should be resolved through a quiet title action. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and after a hearing on the forcible detainer, found Sotomayor owned the property and ordered Muñoz to vacate the premises. The court entered a formal judgment in the eviction action on April 9, 2015.

¶3The same day, Muñoz filed a "Rule 15(a) Motion to Set Aside Judgment, " citing Rule 15(c), Ariz. R. P. Eviction Actions. She asserted that for various reasons the trial court lacked jurisdiction to proceed in a forcible detainer action, including that there was no lease or landlord-tenant relationship and that she had raised a claim of ownership over the property. The court stayed the writ of execution in the matter, but denied the motion to set aside the judgment in an under-advisement ruling issued June 29, 2015 and an amended order issued June 30, 2015. On July 1, 2015, Muñoz filed a notice of appeal, stating she appealed from the April judgment and the June denial of her motion to set aside the judgment.[1]

¶4Sotomayor objected to Muñoz's notice of appeal and filed a motion to dismiss in this court, arguing her appeal was untimely. We denied the motion to dismiss as well as Muñoz's subsequent motion "for vacatur of the judgment, " in which she alleged Sotomayor had rendered the matter moot by conveying the property to a third party. We further ordered additional briefing on the question of sanctions.

Discussion

¶5"The court of appeals, as a court of limited jurisdiction, has only the jurisdiction conferred on it by statute." McDougall v. Superior Court, 170 Ariz. 474, 475, 826 P.2d 337, 338 (App. 1991). And, "'[i]t is settled in Arizona that the perfecting of an appeal within the time prescribed is jurisdictional; and, hence, where the appeal is not timely filed, the appellate court acquires no jurisdiction other than to dismiss the attempted appeal.'" James v. Arizona, 215 Ariz. 182, ¶ 11, 158 P.3d 905, 908 (App. 2007), quoting Edwards v. Young, 107 Ariz. 283, 284, 486 P.2d 181, 182 (1971). Based on authority not discussed by the parties in their motions, we now conclude we lack jurisdiction and must dismiss the appeal. See McMurray v. Dream Catcher USA, Inc., 220 Ariz. 71, ¶ 4, 202 P.3d 536, 539 (App. 2009) ("this court has an independent duty to determine whether it has jurisdiction over an appeal").

¶6As Sotomayor pointed out in her motion to dismiss the appeal, Muñoz's notice of appeal was filed nearly three months after the trial court entered the final judgment. Rule 9, Ariz. R. Civ. App. P., requires that a notice be filed within thirty days of the entry of judgment. Thus, as Sotomayor correctly argued, this court lacks jurisdiction to consider an appeal of the underlying judgment. See James, 215 Ariz. 182, ¶ 11, 158 P.3d at 908.

¶7Muñoz's notice of appeal was, however, filed the day after the trial court entered its order denying her Rule 15 motion. In her motion to dismiss, Sotomayor merely asserted that the provisions of Rule 9 relating to post-judgment motions were "not applicable in this case." Muñoz, in contrast, contended her Rule 15 motion was "[e]ffectively . . . a motion for a new trial" and its filing therefore extended the time for appeal ...


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