In Williams v. McNeil, No. 08-11259 (Feb. 10, 2009), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief. After the issue of the timeliness of his habeas petition was assigned to a Magistrate Judge, Williams neglected to file any memorandum on this issue with the Magistrate Judge. The Magistrate Issue ruled that McNeil’s petition was untimely. Williams then sought to challenge this ruling in the district court. The district court declined to reach Williams’ arguments, because he had failed to brief the issue before the Magistrate Judge. The district court denied habeas relief.
Affirming, the Court of Appeals joined the majority of circuits to have considered the issue, and ruled that when a party fails to brief an issue before a Magistrate Judge, the district court has the discretion to simply adopt the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation on the basis of this waiver.