Pace v. DiGuglielmo

PETITIONER: John A. Pace
RESPONDENT: David DiGuglielmo, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution at Graterford, et al.
LOCATION: Texas State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 03-9627
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 544 US 408 (2005)
GRANTED: Sep 28, 2004
ARGUED: Feb 28, 2005
DECIDED: Apr 27, 2005

ADVOCATES:
David M. Porter - for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers et al. as amici curiae urging reversal
David Richman - for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers et al. as amici curiae urging reversal
David Wycoff - argued the cause for Petitioner
Joseph Farber - for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers et al. as amici curiae urging reversal
Peter Goldberger - for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers et al. as amici curiae urging reversal
Ronald Eisenberg - argued the cause for Respondents

Facts of the case

In 1986 John Pace was convicted for murder in a Pennsylvania court. His post-conviction appeal was rejected by the state courts as untimely. In 1999 he filed a federal habeas corpus petition. While federal law provides a one-year statute of limitations on filing habeas petitions, that period is tolled while "a properly filed" state appeal is pending. The district court found Pace entitled to both statutory and equitable tolling, effectively discounting the period of time when Pace pursued appeals in state courts. Pennsylvania appealed and argued the court had no basis for the extension. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ruled Pace could not file a federal habeas petition.

Question

If a state court rejected Pace's post-conviction appeal as untimely, could his federal habeas petition still be "properly filed" within the context of the federal law establishing a one-year statute of limitations for such petitions?

Media for Pace v. DiGuglielmo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 2005 in Pace v. DiGuglielmo

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 27, 2005 in Pace v. DiGuglielmo

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the judgment of the Court to announce in Pace versus DiGuglielmo.

The Antiterrorism and the Effective Death Penalty Act establishes a one-year statute of limitations for filing a Federal habeas corpus petition.

But it tolled the limitation period while a properly filed application for state conviction relief is pending.

Petitioner John Pace filed his federal habeas petition outside the one-year limit but argued that he was entitled to a statutory and equitable tolling.

We now affirm the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s rejection of petitioner’s contentions.

Petitioner’s untimely state of postconviction petition was not properly filed and therefore did not toll the limitation period, and petitioner was not entitled to equitable tolling.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer have joined.