WALL v. KHOLI, 562 U. S. ____ (2011), No. 09–868 (March 7, 2011) (argued November 29, 2010)
Tolling of time period for Writ of Habeas Corpus
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
Facts: Rhode Island convicted Mr. Kholi of ten counts of sexual assault, and the trial court sentenced him to consecutive life terms. Mr. Kholi filed a direct appeal, and his conviction became final in 1996. Mr. Kholi also filed two post-conviction motions – a 35(b) reconsideration motion seeking concurrent rather than consecutive life sentences, and a 35(c) post-conviction motion. Mr. Kholi filed the 35(b) in 1996 within a year of his conviction becoming final. Moreover, Mr. Kholi filed a 35(c) while the reconsideration post-conviction motion was pending in the trial court. The trial court eventually denied both post-conviction motions, and the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed those denials – the last on December 14, 2006. Mr. Kholi then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in Federal district court on September 5, 2007, within a year of the last decision from the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Rhode Island complained that Mr. Kholi did not file his writ of habeas corpus within a year of the conviction, which is required by AEDPA.
Issue: If the time in which the 35(b) motion does not toll the time period to file the great writ, then Mr. Kholi is SOL. If a 35(b) type motion does toll the 1-year period, Mr. Kholi filed his writ of habeas corpus in a timely fashion.
Held: The filing of a motion for reconsideration does toll the time period in which a petition for writ of habeas corpus must be filed.
Reasoning: The U.S. Supreme Court took cert on the issue because the Federal Circuit Courts are split. Justice Alito wrote the opinion with nary a dissenter. First, to toll the time period under the AEDPA, the motion must be a request for “collateral review”. The Court reasoned, “Viewed as a whole, then, ‘collateral review’ of a judgment or claim means a judicial reexamination of a judgment or claim in a proceeding outside of the direct review process.” The Court then looked at the purposes of a 35(b) motion (Rhode Island’s Rule 35 and Colorado’s Rule 35 mirror each other). The Court found indeed a motion to reconsider does fall outside the direct review process, seeks review of the sentence by the trial court, and falls squarely within the definition of collateral review.
***Commentary contributed by Eric Sims Jr., Esq. (used with permission)***
BY THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (SYLLABUS):
ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined, and in which SCALIA, J., joined, except as to footnote 3. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in part.
Respondent was convicted in Rhode Island Superior Court on 10 counts of first-degree sexual assault and sentenced to consecutive life terms. His conviction became final on direct review on May 29, 1996. In addition to his direct appeal, he filed two relevant state motions. One, a May 16, 1996, motion to reduce his sentence under Rhode Island Superior Court Rule of Criminal Procedure 35, was denied. The State Supreme Court affirmed on January 16, 1998. The second, a state postconviction relief motion, was also denied. That decision was affirmed on December 14, 2006. When respondent filed his federal habeas petition, his conviction had been final for over 11 years. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) generally requires a federal petition to be filed within one year of the date on which a judgment became final, 28 U. S. C. §2244(d)(1)(A), but “a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review” tolls that period, §2244(d)(2). Respondent’s postconviction relief motion tolled the period for over nine years, but his Rule 35 motion must also trigger the tolling provision for his habeas petition to be timely. The District Court dismissed the petition as untimely, adopting the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that the Rule 35 motion was not “a properly filed application for . . . collateral review” under §2244(d)(2). The First Circuit reversed.