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Argued April 11, 2002

Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge Edwards.

This case requires us to revisit the scope of the strict time limit for filing a motion for a new trial under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33, a subject we addressed just two years ago in United States v. Hall, 214 F.3d 175 (D.C. Cir. 2000). Rule 33 provides that a motion for a new trial based on grounds other than newly discovered evidence must be made within seven days “after the verdict or finding of guilty or within such further time as the court may fix” during that seven-day period. If the defendant fails to make a motion for a new trial within seven days and the court fails to “fix” a new due date for the motion during that period, the court loses jurisdiction and cannot grant such a motion at a later time. In Hall, the defendant had filed a timely motion for an extension of time to file a motion for a new trial, but the trial court neglected to rule on the motion within the prescribed period. 214 F.3d at 176. Weeks later, the court granted the motion nunc pro tunc (“now for then”) to a date within seven days of the verdict. Id. We found that that court had impermissibly acted outside of the time limits of Rule 33 and, therefore, lacked the power to act. Id. at 176-78.

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