from the United States District Court for the Middle District
WILLIAM PRYOR, JORDAN, and NEWSOM, Circuit Judges.
NEWSOM, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
case is REMANDED, sua sponte, to the district court
to determine when Rayvon Boatman delivered his pro
se notice of appeal to authorities at the Florida Civil
Containment Center (FCCC) for mailing.
notice of appeal was filed in the district court on April 25,
2019-beyond the 30-day deadline to appeal the district
court's March 20, 2019 judgment. See Fed. R.
App. P. 4(a)(1)(A). But if Federal Rule of Appellate
Procedure 4(c)(1), which is known colloquially as the
"prison mailbox rule," applies to Boatman, his
appeal may still be timely. That rule makes a notice of
appeal filed by a pro se "inmate" timely
"if it is deposited in the institution's internal
mail system on or before the last day for filing." Fed.
R. App. P. 4(c)(1) (added in 1993).
the prison mailbox rule applies to a civilly committed person
is a question of first impression in this Circuit. Several of
our sister circuits have held that it does. See Brown v.
Taylor, 829 F.3d 365, 369 (5th Cir. 2016); Jones v.
Blanas, 393 F.3d 918, 926 (9th Cir. 2004); see also
Lanahan v. Warden, 656 F.App'x 22, 23 n.3 (4th Cir.
2016). But see Council v. Nash, 400 F.App'x 680,
682 (3d Cir. 2010) (declining to apply the prison mailbox
rule to an inmate in a Community Correctional Facility in
part because he failed to show that the "relatively
lenient policies" of that facility prevented him from
ensuring "that his notice of appeal was timely
agree with the majority position. By its terms, the text of
Rule 4(c)(1) "applies broadly to any 'inmate
confined in an institution.'" Jones, 393
F.3d at 926 (quoting Fed. R. App. P. 4(c)). Neither the term
"inmate" nor the term "institution" is
defined in the Rule, but both have ordinary meanings that
include Boatman and his place of confinement. Antonin Scalia
& Bryan A. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of
Legal Texts § 6, at 69 (2012) ("Words are to
be understood in their ordinary, everyday meanings-unless the
context indicates that they bear a technical sense.").
At the time of Rule 4(c)(1)'s adoption,
"inmate" was-and indeed still is-defined to mean
"[a] person confined to a prison, penitentiary, or
the like." Black's Law Dictionary 788
(6th ed. 1990) (emphasis added); accord Webster's
Second International Dictionary 1281 (1934) ("[O]ne
confined or kept in an institution such as an
asylum, prison, or poorhouse." (emphasis
added)); Webster's Third International
Dictionary 1165 (1961) ("[A] person confined or
kept in an institution . . . [such] as an asylum,
prison, or poorhouse." (emphasis added)). And
"institution" was-and is-defined to mean "[a]n
establishment, especially one of eleemosynary or public
character or one affecting a community." Black's
Law Dictionary 800 (6th ed. 1990); accord
Webster's Second 1288 ("An established society
or corporation; an establishment, esp. one of a public
character . . ."); Webster's Third 1171
("[A]n established society or corporation: an
establishment or foundation esp. of a public
character."). Civil detainees and civil-detention
facilities fit comfortably within these definitions.
does the text of the Rule purport to limit its application to
those imprisoned for criminal violations, as is the case in
related contexts. See Scalia & Garner,
Reading Law § 36, at 225 ("Definition
sections and interpretation clauses are to be carefully
followed. . . . Individual statutes often contain definition
sections giving ordinary words a limited or artificial
meaning."). The Prison Litigation Reform Act, for
example, contains an explicit textual limitation.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(h) (limiting the
definition of "prisoner" to a person detained for
"violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions
of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary
program"). We therefore conclude that Rule 4(c)(1) is
best read to apply to anyone "[c]onfined in an
[i]nstitution," whether civilly or criminally. Fed. R.
App. P. 4(c).
we see no good reason to construe the prison mailbox rule in
an artificially narrow manner. Quite the contrary, the same
considerations that led the Supreme Court to establish the
rule in the first place-before its codification- apply in the
civil-commitment context. Like those imprisoned for crimes,
civilly detained pro se litigants frequently
"cannot take the steps other litigants can take to
monitor the processing of their notices of appeal and to
ensure that the court clerk receives and stamps their notices
of appeal before the 30-day deadline." Houston v.
Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270–71 (1988). Simply by
virtue of their confinement, pro se litigants
"[c]onfined in an [i]nstitution," Fed. R. App. P.
4(c), are necessarily less able to ensure their filings'
timeliness. See Brown, 829 F.3d at 369 (quoting
Houston, 487 U.S. at 271) (noting that a civil
detainee "like the prisoner in Houston-could
not 'personally travel to the courthouse'").
concluded that Boatman is entitled to the benefit of the
prison mailbox rule, we must still determine whether he has
met its requirements. In this Circuit, a pro se
inmate-litigant is presumed to have submitted his notice of
appeal on the day he signed it, absent evidence to the
contrary. Washington v. United States, 243 F.3d
1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001) ("[T]he burden is on prison
authorities to prove the date a prisoner delivered his
documents to be mailed."). Boatman signed and dated his
notice of appeal on March 26, 2019, well within the deadline,
but the envelope that contained the notice bears an FCCC
stamp indicating that it was delivered for mailing on April
23, 2019. This conflicting evidence creates a factual
question to be decided in the first instance by the district
court. Sanders v. United States, 113 F.3d 184, 186
n.2 (11th Cir. 1997). On remand, the district court should
decide whether Boatman delivered his notice of appeal to FCCC
authorities for mailing within 30 days from the entry of
judgment and then return the supplemented record to this
Court for further proceedings.
See also Black's Law
Dictionary 791 (7th ed. 1999) ("A person confined
in a prison, hospital, or other institution."
(emphasis added)); Black's Law Dictionary 941
(11th ed. 2019) ("A person confined in a prison,
hospital, or similar ...