Hernandez v. Spearman

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 08-22-2014
  • Case #: 09-55306
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judge Pregerson and Chief District Judge Amon
  • Full Text Opinion

If a pro se prisoner has a third party deliver his or her habeas petition to prison authorities, the prison mailbox rule will still apply, so the filing date of the petition will be the date of delivery to the prison authority.

Eduardo Hernandez appeals a district court’s ruling that his habeas corpus petition was untimely filed under the prison mailbox rule because he did not deliver his petition to prison authorities himself, but instead had a fellow prisoner deliver it to prison authorities. The prison mailbox rule states, “A pro se prisoner’s notice of appeal from the denial of a federal habeas petition is filed at the time it is delivered to the prison authorities for forwarding to the court clerk.” The Ninth Circuit ruled that a third party, such as another prisoner or a jailhouse lawyer, can deliver the petition to the prison authorities and the prisoner mailbox rule will still apply. This is in line with the purpose of the prison mailbox rule, which is to create an exception for pro se prisoners who are in the unique position of relying on prison authorities to properly forward their petitions. The panel also reviewed the statutory tolling the district court applied between the denial of Hernandez’s second state habeas petition and the summary denial of his fourth state habeas petition. In California, if a second habeas petition is filed in the same court, rather than a higher court, statutory tolling is not appropriate unless the second petition is limited to an elaboration of the facts relating to the first petition’s claims. Because Hernandez’s second petition alleged a new claim, statutory tolling was not appropriate. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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