[USC02] 38 USC PART V, CHAPTER 72, SUBCHAPTER II: PROCEDURE
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38 USC PART V, CHAPTER 72, SUBCHAPTER II: PROCEDURE
From Title 38—VETERANS' BENEFITSPART V—BOARDS, ADMINISTRATIONS, AND SERVICESCHAPTER 72—UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS

SUBCHAPTER II—PROCEDURE

§7261. Scope of review

(a) In any action brought under this chapter, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, to the extent necessary to its decision and when presented, shall—

(1) decide all relevant questions of law, interpret constitutional, statutory, and regulatory provisions, and determine the meaning or applicability of the terms of an action of the Secretary;

(2) compel action of the Secretary unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed;

(3) hold unlawful and set aside decisions, findings (other than those described in clause (4) of this subsection), conclusions, rules, and regulations issued or adopted by the Secretary, the Board of Veterans' Appeals, or the Chairman of the Board found to be—

(A) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law;

(B) contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity;

(C) in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or in violation of a statutory right; or

(D) without observance of procedure required by law; and


(4) in the case of a finding of material fact adverse to the claimant made in reaching a decision in a case before the Department with respect to benefits under laws administered by the Secretary, hold unlawful and set aside or reverse such finding if the finding is clearly erroneous.


(b) In making the determinations under subsection (a), the Court shall review the record of proceedings before the Secretary and the Board of Veterans' Appeals pursuant to section 7252(b) of this title and shall—

(1) take due account of the Secretary's application of section 5107(b) of this title; and

(2) take due account of the rule of prejudicial error.


(c) In no event shall findings of fact made by the Secretary or the Board of Veterans' Appeals be subject to trial de novo by the Court.

(d) When a final decision of the Board of Veterans' Appeals is adverse to a party and the sole stated basis for such decision is the failure of the party to comply with any applicable regulation prescribed by the Secretary, the Court shall review only questions raised as to compliance with and the validity of the regulation.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4115, §4061; amended Pub. L. 101–237, title VI, §602(c), Dec. 18, 1989, 103 Stat. 2095; renumbered §7261, Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238; Pub. L. 102–54, §14(e)(3), June 13, 1991, 105 Stat. 287; Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(1), (3), (4), (b)(1), (2)(E), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 403–405; Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341; Pub. L. 107–330, title IV, §401(a), (b), Dec. 6, 2002, 116 Stat. 2832.)

Amendments

2002—Subsec. (a)(4). Pub. L. 107–330, §401(a), inserted "adverse to the claimant" after "material fact" and "or reverse" after "and set aside".

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 107–330, §401(b), amended subsec. (b) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (b) read as follows: "In making the determinations under subsection (a) of this section, the Court shall take due account of the rule of prejudicial error."

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals" in introductory provisions.

1991Pub. L. 102–40 renumbered section 4061 of this title as this section.

Subsec. (a)(1) to (3). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator" wherever appearing.

Subsec. (a)(4). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(3), (4), substituted "Department" for "Veterans' Administration".

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(1), substituted "administered by the Secretary" for "administered by the Veterans' Administration".

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator".

Pub. L. 102–54 amended subsec. (c) as in effect immediately before the enactment of Pub. L. 102–40 by substituting "Court" for "court".

Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator".

1989—Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 101–237 inserted "or unreasonably delayed" after "withheld".

Effective Date of 2002 Amendment

Pub. L. 107–330, title IV, §401(c), Dec. 6, 2002, 116 Stat. 2832, provided that:

"(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the amendments made by this section [amending this section] shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 6, 2002].

"(2) The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to any case pending for decision before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims other than a case in which a decision has been entered before the date of the enactment of this Act."

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.

§7262. Fee for filing appeals

(a) The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims may impose a fee of not more than $50 for the filing of any appeal with the Court. The Court shall establish procedures under which such a fee may be waived in the case of an appeal filed by or on behalf of a person who demonstrates that the requirement that such fee be paid will impose a hardship on that person. A decision as to such a waiver is final and may not be reviewed in any other court.

(b) The Court may from time to time adjust the maximum amount permitted for a fee imposed under subsection (a) of this section based upon inflation and similar fees charged by other courts established under Article I of the Constitution.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4115, §4062; renumbered §7262, Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238; amended Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341.)

Amendments

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals".

1991Pub. L. 102–40 renumbered section 4062 of this title as this section.

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.

§7263. Representation of parties; fee agreements

(a) The Secretary shall be represented before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims by the General Counsel of the Department.

(b) Representation of appellants shall be in accordance with the rules of practice prescribed by the Court under section 7264 of this title. In addition to members of the bar admitted to practice before the Court in accordance with such rules of practice, the Court may allow other persons to practice before the Court who meet standards of proficiency prescribed in such rules of practice.

(c) A person who represents an appellant before the Court shall file a copy of any fee agreement between the appellant and that person with the Court at the time the appeal is filed. The Court, on its own motion or the motion of any party, may review such a fee agreement.

(d) In reviewing a fee agreement under subsection (c) of this section or under section 5904(c)(2) of this title, the Court may affirm the finding or order of the Board and may order a reduction in the fee called for in the agreement if it finds that the fee is excessive or unreasonable. An order of the Court under this subsection is final and may not be reviewed in any other court.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4116, §4063; renumbered §7263 and amended Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), (d)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238, 239; Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(3), (4), (b)(1), (2)(E), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 404, 405; Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341.)

Amendments

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals".

1991Pub. L. 102–40, §402(b)(1), renumbered section 4063 of this title as this section.

Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator".

Pub. L. 102–83, §4(a)(3), (4), substituted "Department" for "Veterans' Administration".

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–40, §402(d)(1), substituted "7264" for "4064".

Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 102–40, §402(d)(1), substituted "5904(c)(2)" for "3404(c)(2)".

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.

§7264. Rules of practice and procedure

(a) The proceedings of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims shall be conducted in accordance with such rules of practice and procedure as the Court prescribes.

(b) The mailing of a pleading, decision, order, notice, or process in respect of proceedings before the Court shall be held sufficient service of such pleading, decision, order, notice, or process if it is properly addressed to the address furnished by the appellant on the notice of appeal filed under section 7266 of this title.

(c) Section 455 of title 28 shall apply to judges and proceedings of the Court.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4116, §4064; renumbered §7264 and amended Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), (d)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238, 239; Pub. L. 102–82, §4, Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 376; Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341.)

Amendments

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals".

1991Pub. L. 102–40, §402(b)(1), renumbered section 4064 of this title as this section.

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–40, §402(d)(1), substituted "7266" for "4066".

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 102–82 added subsec. (c).

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.

Interim Rules of Court of Veterans Appeals

Pub. L. 101–94, title II, §203, Aug. 16, 1989, 103 Stat. 627, provided that the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (28 U.S.C. App.) would be interim rules of United States Court of Veterans Appeals unless otherwise provided by the Court in accordance with this chapter, and if there was a conflict between a provision of Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and procedures set forth in this chapter, procedures set forth in this chapter would apply.

§7265. Contempt authority; assistance to the Court

(a) The Court shall have power to punish by fine or imprisonment such contempt of its authority as—

(1) misbehavior of any person in its presence or so near thereto as to obstruct the administration of justice;

(2) misbehavior of any of its officers in their official transactions; or

(3) disobedience or resistance to its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command.


(b) The Court shall have such assistance in the carrying out of its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command as is available to a court of the United States. The United States marshal for a district in which the Court is sitting shall, if requested by the chief judge of the Court, attend any session of the Court in that district.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4116, §4065; renumbered §7265, Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238.)

Amendments

1991Pub. L. 102–40 renumbered section 4065 of this title as this section.

§7266. Notice of appeal

(a) In order to obtain review by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims of a final decision of the Board of Veterans' Appeals, a person adversely affected by such decision shall file a notice of appeal with the Court within 120 days after the date on which notice of the decision is mailed pursuant to section 7104(e) of this title.

(b) An appellant shall file a notice of appeal under this section by delivering or mailing the notice to the Court.

(c) A notice of appeal shall be deemed to be received by the Court as follows:

(1) On the date of receipt by the Court, if the notice is delivered.

(2) On the date of the United States Postal Service postmark stamped on the cover in which the notice is posted, if the notice is properly addressed to the Court and is mailed.


(d) For a notice of appeal mailed to the Court to be deemed to be received under subsection (c)(2) on a particular date, the United States Postal Service postmark on the cover in which the notice is posted must be legible. The Court shall determine the legibility of any such postmark and the Court's determination as to legibility shall be final and not subject to review by any other Court.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4116, §4066; renumbered §7266 and amended Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), (d)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238, 239; Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 404, 405; Pub. L. 103–446, title V, §511(a), Nov. 2, 1994, 108 Stat. 4670; Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341; Pub. L. 107–103, title V, §507, Dec. 27, 2001, 115 Stat. 997.)

Amendments

2001Pub. L. 107–103 struck out "(1)" before "In order to", redesignated par. (2) of subsec. (a) as subsec. (b), redesignated par. (3) of subsec. (a) as subsec. (c) and subpars. (A) and (B) thereof as pars. (1) and (2), respectively, redesignated par. (4) of subsec. (a) as subsec. (d) and substituted "subsection (c)(2)" for "paragraph (3)(B)", and struck out former subsec. (b) which read as follows: "The appellant shall also furnish the Secretary with a copy of such notice, but a failure to do so shall not constitute a failure of timely compliance with subsection (a) of this section."

1998—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals".

1994—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 103–446 amended subsec. (a) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (a) read as follows: "In order to obtain review by the Court of Veterans Appeals of a final decision of the Board of Veterans' Appeals, a person adversely affected by that action must file a notice of appeal with the Court. Any such notice must be filed within 120 days after the date on which notice of the decision is mailed pursuant to section 7104(e) of this title."

1991Pub. L. 102–40, §402(b)(1), renumbered section 4066 of this title as this section.

Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 102–40, §402(d)(1), substituted "7104(e)" for "4004(e)".

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator".

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.

Effective Date of 1994 Amendment

Pub. L. 103–446, title V, §511(b), Nov. 2, 1994, 108 Stat. 4670, provided that: "The amendment made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act [Nov. 2, 1994] and shall apply to notices of appeal that are delivered or mailed to the United States Court of Veterans Appeals [now United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims] on or after that date."

Interim Provision for Filing Notices of Appeal

Pub. L. 101–94, title II, §202, Aug. 16, 1989, 103 Stat. 626, provided that in the case of a person adversely affected by a final decision of the Board of Veterans' Appeals that was made before the date on which the United States Court of Veterans Appeals published in the Federal Register a notice by the Court that it had commenced operations, the period prescribed under this section within which a notice of appeal had to be filed with the Court was to be extended to the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date such notice was published, if the end of that period was later than the date that would otherwise be applicable under this section.

§7267. Decisions

(a) A decision upon a proceeding before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims shall be made as quickly as practicable. In a case heard by a panel of the Court, the decision shall be made by a majority vote of the panel in accordance with the rules of the Court. The decision of the judge or panel hearing the case so made shall be the decision of the Court.

(b) A judge or panel shall make a determination upon any proceeding before the Court, and any motion in connection with such a proceeding, that is assigned to the judge or panel. The judge or panel shall make a report of any such determination which constitutes the judge or panel's final disposition of the proceeding.

(c) The Court shall designate in its decision in any case those specific records of the Government on which it relied (if any) in making its decision. The Secretary shall preserve records so designated for not less than the period of time designated by the Archivist of the United States.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4117, §4067; renumbered §7267, Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238; amended Pub. L. 102–82, §§1, 8(1), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 375, 377; Pub. L. 102–83, §4(b)(1), (2)(E), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 404, 405; Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341.)

Amendments

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals".

1991Pub. L. 102–40 renumbered section 4067 of this title as this section.

Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 102–82, §1(3), struck out before period at end "except as provided in subsection (d) of this section".

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102–82, §1(1), (2), redesignated subsec. (c) as (b) and struck out former subsec. (b) which read as follows: "The Court shall include in its decision a statement of its conclusions of law and determinations as to factual matters."

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 102–83 substituted "Secretary" for "Administrator".

Pub. L. 102–82, §8(1), substituted "Archivist of the United States" for "Administrator of the National Archives and Records Administration".

Pub. L. 102–82, §1(2), redesignated subsec. (e) as (c). Former subsec. (c) redesignated (b).

Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 102–82, §1(1), struck out subsec. (d) which read as follows:

"(1) In the case of a proceeding determined by a single judge of the Court, the decision of the judge shall become the decision of the Court unless before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date of the decision by the judge the Court, upon the motion of either party or on its own initiative, directs that the decision be reviewed by a panel of the Court. In such a case, the decision of the judge initially deciding the case shall not be a part of the record.

"(2) In the case of a proceeding determined by a panel of the Court, the decision of the panel shall become the decision of the Court unless before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date of the decision by the panel the Court, upon the motion of either party or on its own initiative, directs that the decision be reviewed by an expanded panel of the Court (or the Court en banc). In such a case, the decision of the panel initially deciding the case shall not be a part of the record."

Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 102–82, §1(2), redesignated subsec. (e) as (c).

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.

§7268. Availability of proceedings

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, all decisions of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and all briefs, motions, documents, and exhibits received by the Court (including a transcript of the stenographic report of the hearings) shall be public records open to the inspection of the public.

(b)(1) The Court may make any provision which is necessary to prevent the disclosure of confidential information, including a provision that any such document or information be placed under seal to be opened only as directed by the Court.

(2) After the decision of the Court in a proceeding becomes final, the Court may, upon motion of the appellant or the Secretary, permit the withdrawal by the party entitled thereto of originals of books, documents, and records, and of models, diagrams, and other exhibits, submitted to the Court or the Court may, on its own motion, make such other disposition thereof as it considers advisable.

(c)(1) The Court shall prescribe rules, in accordance with section 7264(a) of this title, to protect privacy and security concerns relating to all filing of documents and the public availability under this subsection of documents retained by the Court or filed electronically with the Court.

(2) The rules prescribed under paragraph (1) shall be consistent to the extent practicable with rules addressing privacy and security issues throughout the Federal courts.

(3) The rules prescribed under paragraph (1) shall take into consideration best practices in Federal and State courts to protect private information or otherwise maintain necessary information security.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4117, §4068; renumbered §7268, Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238; amended Pub. L. 102–82, §8(2), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 377; Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341; Pub. L. 110–389, title VI, §602, Oct. 10, 2008, 122 Stat. 4177.)

Amendments

2008—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 110–389 added subsec. (c).

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals".

1991Pub. L. 102–40 renumbered section 4068 of this title as this section.

Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 102–82 substituted "may, upon motion of the appellant or the Secretary," for "shall" and "or the Court" for "before the Court".

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.

§7269. Publication of decisions

(a) The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims shall provide for the publication of decisions of the Court in such form and manner as may be best adapted for public information and use. The Court may make such exceptions, or may authorize the chief judge to make such exceptions, to the requirement for publication in the preceding sentence as may be appropriate.

(b) Such authorized publication shall be competent evidence of the decisions of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims therein contained in all courts of the United States and of the several States without any further proof or authentication thereof.

(c) Such publications shall be subject to sale in the same manner and upon the same terms as other public documents.

(Added Pub. L. 100–687, div. A, title III, §301(a), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4118, §4069; renumbered §7269, Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, §402(b)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238; amended Pub. L. 105–368, title V, §512(a)(1), Nov. 11, 1998, 112 Stat. 3341.)

Amendments

1998—Subsecs. (a), (b). Pub. L. 105–368 substituted "Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims" for "Court of Veterans Appeals".

1991Pub. L. 102–40 renumbered section 4069 of this title as this section.

Effective Date of 1998 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 105–368 effective on first day of first month beginning more than 90 days after Nov. 11, 1998, see section 513 of Pub. L. 105–368, set out as a note under section 7251 of this title.