It is with some trepidation that one ventures into a discussion of the collateral order doctrine, an arcane and complicated area of appellate law. As the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has noted, “no one can make a seamless web out of all of the decisions on collateral orders.” U.S. v. Billmyer, 57 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1995). A central theme in the case law, however, is that the lower court order at issue must be “important” — in some way — to qualify for immediate appeal under the collateral order doctrine.
The doctrine has its genesis in Cohen v. Beneficial Loan Indus. Corp., 337 U.S. 541 (1949). Cohen interpreted 28 U.S.C. 1291 to permit the appeal of orders that “finally determine claims of right separable from, and collateral to, rights asserted in the action, too important to be denied review and too independent of the cause itself to require that appellate consideration be deferred until the whole case is adjudicated.” Id. at 546.
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