February 20, 2007
New SCOTUS Opinion Lawrence v. Florida
In Lawrence v. Florida __ US __ (Feb. 20, 2007), the supreme court analyzed whether the one-year statute of limitations for habeas petitions was tolled during the time when a petition for certiorari is pending in the Supreme Court. The court held it did not.
The tolling statute provides: “The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral reviewwith respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection.” §2244(d)(2). Thus, the majority reasoned that the question was whether an “application for State
Five justices (opinion by Thomas) held that the 1-year statute of limitations isnot tolled during pendency of cert petitions in the Supreme Court. The majority reasoned that when "read naturally" the period was tolled only when an application was pending in state court. The court also relied on, essentially, the doctrine of in pari materia, to uphold its conclusion.
Four justices dissented (opinion by Ginsburg). The opening paragraph of the dissent states:
The Court today concludes that an application for statepostconviction review “no longer exists”—and therefore is not “pending”—once it has been decided by a State’s high-est court. Ante, at 4. What remains, the majority reasons, is a “separate” certiorari proceeding pending before this Court. Ibid. But petitions for certiorari do not exist in avacuum; they arise from actions instituted in lower courts. When we are asked to review a state court’s denial of habeas relief, we consider an application for that relief—not an application for federal habeas relief. Until we have disposed of the petition for certiorari, the application remains live as one for state postconviction relief; it is not transformed into a federal application simply because thestate-court applicant petitions for this Court’s review.
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