- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
- Date Filed: 04-18-2014
- Case #: 12-35843
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Trott for the Court; Circuit Judges Goodwin and Fletcher
- Full Text Opinion
In 1999, Steven Forbess was convicted of attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, and coercion, of his former wife, by an Oregon state court. After direct appeal, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a final judgment on November 28, 2001. This triggered the one-year statute of limitations on Forbess’s federal habeas corpus petition. On October 20, 2003, Forbess filed a petition for state post-conviction relief, thereby tolling the federal habeas statute of limitation. Forbess filed his petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for federal habeas on October 22, 2008. Excluding the time tolled, Forbess filed the federal habeas petition roughly twenty-three months after the statute of limitations had run. The district court ordered Forbess to show cause. Forbess argued that he was mentally ill, and believed that he was working for the FBI during the relevant period of time, helping them to apprehend his former wife. Further, he believed that the FBI staged his conviction and incarceration in an effort to coax his wife out of hiding, at which point the FBI would orchestrate his release. Thus, Forbess believed that filing a federal habeas petition would be unnecessary. The district court deemed the petition untimely and rejected it. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit, noting that equitable tolling questions require a flexible and fact-specific approach when applying the two-pronged, Bills v. Clark analysis, held that Forbess’s mental illness involved delusions that were so severe that he could not rationally understand the importance of timely filing a federal habeas petition; and, that the peculiar and unique nature of his illness made it impossible for him to file, and in fact caused him not to timely file that petition. Thus, the panel held Forbess’s mental illness entitled him to an equitable tolling of the 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) one-year statute of limitation. REVERSED and REMANDED.