Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thompson: 2254 Petition Timely

In Thompson v. Sec. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 08-10540 (Jan. 27, 2010), the Court held that a § 2254 habeas petition was timely filed, and reversed the dismissal of the petition.

The timeliness of Thompson’s federal habeas petition turned on whether his prior “habeas” filings in Florida State courts were “properly filed” for the purpose of tolling the one-year statute of limitations of AEDPA. The State argued that they were not properly filed because Florida law requires such challenges to be made in a motion under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850, not in a “habeas petition.” The “properly filed” inquiry, however, goes to whether a court has “initial jurisdiction” over the filing. Here, Thompson “invoked the wrong statutory vehicle” but he filed in the “proper courts.” The State argued that Thompson filed in the wrong County. But the Court rejected this argument, because it went to a condition to obtaining relief, as opposed to a condition to filing.

The Court also rejected the argument that the state habeas petition should not toll the AEDPA time-limit because it incorrectly attacked his convictions, rather than challenging “unlawful detention.” The Court pointed out that Thompson alleged “that he was being illegally detained based on his unlawful convictions.”