Rudin v. Myles

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 03-10-2015
  • Case #: 12-15362
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Murguia for the Court; Concurrence by District Judge Adelman; Dissent by Circuit Judge O’Scannlain
  • Full Text Opinion

When a defendant diligently pursues her right to habeas corpus relief but extraordinary circumstances prevent her from timely filing a petition, she may be eligible for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.

Margaret Rudin was convicted of murder with a deadly weapon and surreptitious invasion of privacy by listening device in connection with the death of her husband. She was sentenced to life imprisonment. Rudin’s trial and subsequent appeals were fraught with errors and professional misconduct by her multiple attorneys. Shortly before her trial began, the trial court appointed an additional attorney to assist, due to the complexity of the case and her trial attorney’s lack of preparedness. Rudin was convicted and the convictions were upheld on direct appeal. Rudin’s first appellate attorney withdrew and she sought appointment of counsel for her post-conviction proceedings. The court appointed Dayvid Figler. Rudin attempted to file a post-conviction petition herself but because she had counsel on the record, the court refused to file the petition. Instead, the court returned the petition to Figler, who did not file the petition. Figler visited Rudin only a handful of times during his two years of representing her, he refused to take her calls, and he failed to inform her of developments in her case. Rudin did not learn that Figler had failed to file anything in state or federal court until after the limitations period had run. The Ninth Circuit held that when a defendant diligently pursues her right to habeas corpus relief but extraordinary circumstances prevent her from timely filing a petition, she may be eligible for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. Here, Rudin was under the mistaken impression that Figler had filed a petition. Rudin is entitled to equitable tolling from the time Figler was appointed her attorney until she learned of the failure to file. Therefore, her petition for habeas corpus relief is timely. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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