RESPONDENT:Nathaniel Quarterman, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division
DOCKET NO.: 07-6984
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2006-2009)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
CITATION: 555 US (2009)
GRANTED: Mar 17, 2008
ARGUED: Nov 04, 2008
DECIDED: Jan 13, 2009
Sean D. Jordan – Deputy Solicitor General of Texas, argued the cause for the respondent
Thomas C. Goldstein – argued the cause for the petitioner
Facts of the case
In 1995, Carlos Jimenez pled guilty in Texas state court to burglary and violating his probation. Because Jimenez had a prior felony conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, he was sentenced to 43 years in prison. Jimenez appealed and, in 1996, a state appeals court dismissed Jimenez’s petition when a court-appointed lawyer stated that Jimenez had no grounds for appeal. Six years later the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals allowed leave for Jimenez to renew his appeal based on his lawyer’s incompetence, however the court affirmed his conviction and sentence.
In 2005, Jimenez filed a habeas corpus petition in a Texas federal court arguing that he had not received adequate legal assistance during his proceedings in the state courts. The district judge dismissed the claim, holding that the one-year statute of limitations, which began running on the date of conviction, had expired. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit also denied Jimenez’s appeal. Jimenez, in his petition for certiorari, argued that the one-year statute of limitations should actually have begun in 2005, after his final appeal was denied in state court, rather than in 1995 when he was convicted.
When a criminal defendant is unable to obtain timely direct review of his case in state court, should the one-year statute of limitations for appeals begin to run at the date of conviction, as federal law prescribes, or after the delayed direct review is completed?
Media for Jimenez v. Quarterman
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 13, 2009 in Jimenez v. Quarterman
John G. Roberts, Jr.:
Justice Thomas has our opinion this morning in case 07-6984, Jimenez versus Quarterman.
This case comes to us on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
After petitioner’s burglary conviction became final in 1996, the state court in post-conviction and relief proceedings granted petitioner the right to file an out-of-time appeal.
Petitioner filed the out-of-time appeal and his conviction was affirmed.
Petitioner then sought state habeas relief for a second time.
After the state court’s denied relief, petitioner filed a federal habeas petition.
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) establishes a one-year time limitation for state prisoners to file a federal habeas corpus petition.
This time, limitation runs from the latest of four dates.
The date that’s relevant here is found at 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1)(A) and that is the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review.
Petitioner argues that his judgment did not become final until this provision — under this provision until January 6, 2004 when time expired for seeking review in this Court of his out-of-time appeal.
The District Court disagreed and dismissed the petition as untimely.
The District Court found that the state court’s decision to grant petitioner an out-of-time appeal did not change the fact that petitioner’s judgment had first become final in 1996.
The Fifth Circuit then denied petitioner’s request for a certificate of appealability.
In an opinion filed with the clerk today, we reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
We conclude that under the plain language of the statute, when a state court reopens the right to review of a conviction by granting the right to file an out-of-time direct appeal, the conviction is no longer final for purposes of Section 2244(d)(1)(A) of AEDPA.
The state court order restores the pendency of the direct appeal allowing the possibility that the conviction will be modified.
Therefore, petitioner’s judgment was not final for purposes of AEDPA until January 6, 2004 when time for seeking direct review of the decision in his out-of-time appeal expired.
The opinion of the Court is unanimous.