Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, February 03, 2014

Cadet: No equitable tolling with mere gross negligence of attorney

In Cadet v. Florida Dep’t of Corrections, No. 12-14518 (Jan. 31, 2014), the Court found that equitable tolling did not apply to a federal habeas petition filed after expiration of the AEDPA one-year deadline, when the petitioner repeatedly questioned his lawyer’s incorrect advice that the deadline was not about to expire. The Court recognized that in Holland v. Florida, the Supreme Court implied that counsel’s more than “garden variety” neglect would toll the AEDPA deadline. The Court found, however, that more recently in Maples v. Thomas, the Supreme Court had “recast” Holland, to hold that tolling only applies when a lawyer “abandons” his client, and that mere “gross negligence” does not suffice. Applying the abandonment standard, the Court found that Cadet’s lawyer had not abandoned him, because he was not “acting adversely” to Cadet. The lawyer “did not withdraw from representing Cadet, renounce his role as counsel, utterly shirk all of his professional responsibilities, or walk away from their attorney-client relationship.” The lawyer merely stubbornly but in good faith adhered to [his erroneous reading of the law].”