The Supreme Court says federal courts cannot throw out a criminal defendant's appeal for missing a deadline when state officials do not object to the overdue filing.
The court on Tuesday unanimously reversed a ruling by the federal appeals court in Denver that dismissed a convicted murderer's appeal of his life sentence because it was filed too late.
Patrick Wood was convicted of first-degree murder following the killing of a pizza shop assistant manager in 1986. Colorado officials said they would not challenge his failure to meet a court deadline for filing paperwork. But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals enforced the deadline and threw out Wood's appeal.
The high court said the appeals court should consider the substance of Wood's arguments.