McQuiggin v. Perkins

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: October 29, 2012
  • Case #: 12-126
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 670 F.3d 665 (2012)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a prisoner claiming actual innocence when petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus must do so with "reasonable diligence."

Respondent was convicted of murder and exhausted his appeals of that conviction on May 5, 1997. Respondent contested the conviction under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), but failed to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus by May 5, 1998 in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Several years later, petitioner obtained "new evidence" in the form of affidavits, the latest of which was signed July 16, 2002.

On June 13, 2008, Respondent filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in district court, but a magistrate judge recommended denial of his petition for not filing timely. Respondent objected to the recommendation and argued that the statute of limitations should instead be based on 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(D), which allows a detainee to file a petition within one year of discovery of new evidence. Thus, according to Respondent, the actual date on which the statute of limitations would have run would have been July 16, 2003. Further, Respondent argued that because he was claiming actual innocence of the charges against him, the statute of limitations regarding new evidence should, for reasons of equity, be tolled beyond the one year limitation.

The district court, relying upon the Supreme Court’s decision in Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 554 U.S. 408 (2005), agreed with the magistrate, noting that since six years had passed since the last affidavit was signed, petitioner “had not pursued his rights with reasonable diligence.”

The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed. In doing so, the court followed its own decision in Souter v. Jones 395 F.3d 577 (6th Cir. 2005), and distinguished between allowing the statute of limitations to toll for a detainee claiming actual innocence, and the Supreme Court’s holding in Holland v. Florida 130 S.Ct. 2549 (2010), where tolling was not allowed when the statute of limitation was missed because of an attorney error.

On appeal, Petitioner argues that Respondent should not be allowed to file the petition under the AEDPA because he did not diligently pursue his right to do so, nor were there extraordinary circumstances preventing him from filing timely, as required by the ruling in Holland.

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