Criminal Procedure

9th Circuit revives pro se habeas petition, says trial court erred in applying 'prison mailbox' rule

A federal judge in California dismissed a prison inmate’s pro se habeas petition on statute-of-limitations grounds.

But the district court erred in doing so because it didn’t properly apply the “prison mailbox” rule, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, reviving the habeas petition of Eduardo Hernandez.

The rule, which says the date when the inmate hands his petition to corrections officials for mailing to the clerk of court is the date of filing, also applies to third parties such as the fellow inmate to whom Hernandez entrusted his legal paperwork, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals explains in its written opinion (PDF).

“The district court found the rule inapplicable because a prisoner other than Hernandez delivered the petition to prison authorities for mailing to the clerk of court,” wrote Judge Marsha Berzon. “We hold that the prison mailbox rule applies to such a circumstance and, accordingly, reverse the dismissal of Hernandez’s petition.”

Hat tip: Courthouse News

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