Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hunter: Mental Retardation Tolls AEDPA deadline

In Hunter v. Ferrell, No. 08-16597 (Nov. 18, 2009), the Court held that despite the fact that an Alabama inmate missed the deadline for filing a federal habeas petition by eight years, because of his mental retardation he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on whether the filing deadline should be equitably tolled on account of his retardation.

The Court noted that Hunter alleged that his mental retardation prevented him from timely filing his habeas petition. Moreover, the record supported this claim. First, his prior pro se filings were filed with the assistance of prison law clerks. Second, a mental health expert’s report “strongly suggests that Hunter’s well-documented, irreversible mental retardation is severe enough that Hunter, by himself, is not able to understand and comply with AEDPA’s filing requirements and deadlines.”