199 F.3d 1256 (11th Cir. 2000), 99-4201, Webster v Moore

Docket Nº:99-4201.
Citation:199 F.3d 1256
Party Name:Frederick WEBSTER, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Michael W. MOORE, Secretary of Florida Department of Corrections, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:January 04, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 1256

199 F.3d 1256 (11th Cir. 2000)

Frederick WEBSTER, Petitioner-Appellant,


Michael W. MOORE, Secretary of Florida Department of Corrections, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 99-4201.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

January 4, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. (No. 97-07216-CV-SH), Shelby Highsmith, Judge.

Before COX, Circuit Judge, KRAVITCH, Senior Circuit Judge, and PROPST[*], Senior District Judge.

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Frederick Webster appeals the district court's dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition as time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)'s one-year limitations period. We address, for the first time in this circuit, whether a petitioner whose state petition has been dismissed as untimely may avail himself of statutory tolling for "properly filed" state petitions under § 2244(d)(2). We conclude that he may not.

I. Background

During a botched getaway from a burglary, Webster was involved in an automobile crash, killing both the driver of his car and the innocent driver of another car. In 1989, a Florida state court convicted Webster of first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony murder, and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, crimes for which he is currently serving concurrent sentences. In 1989, a court of appeals affirmed the first-degree murder and burglary convictions, but reversed the conviction for second-degree murder.

Webster challenged the remaining convictions in three petitions under Fla. R.Crim. P. 3.850. Of relevance to this appeal, the third of these was filed on July 19, 1995, and denied as procedurally barred; the denial was affirmed by a mandate issued September 27, 1996. On May 3, 1997, Webster filed his last state court petition, a request for habeas corpus relief under Florida's newly amended Fla. R.App. P. 9.140(j).1 The Florida appeals court denied this petition on July 8, 1997, and Webster filed the instant federal petition on October 30, 1997. The district court adopted the recommendation of the magistrate judge that Webster's petition be dismissed as time-barred.2

II. Discussion

It is undisputed that Webster did not file his § 2254 petition within the one-year time period allowed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 § 101, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) (Supp. II 1997) (AEDPA).3 Webster's contention on appeal, however, is that his petition is saved by the tolling provision of § 2244(d)(2). It is not. The subsection does require tolling the limitations period during the pendency of certain state-court proceedings:

The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). Thus, if Webster could show that his motions for post-conviction relief in the Florida court system

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were, either individually or in combination, (1) "properly filed" within the meaning of the tolling provision and (2) "pending" for a period of time sufficient to toll the limitations period past October 30, 1997, his federal petition would be timely. Webster offers two arguments attempting to do so.

To undergird the first of his arguments, Webster asserts that both his third 3.850 petition and his state habeas corpus petition were "properly filed" within the meaning of § 2244(d)(2). In that event, the third 3.850 petition, filed before the effective date of AEDPA, would toll the AEDPA limitations period until it was finally decided on September 27, 1996, making the federal deadline September 26, 1997. The state habeas petition, in turn, would toll the statute an additional 65 days, extending his deadline from September 26 to December 1, 1997, making his October 30 federal petition timely.

This argument fails because Webster's third 3.850 petition, which the state trial court dismissed as procedurally barred by the two-year statute of limitations attached to Rule 3.850, see Fla. R.Crim. P. 3.850(b) (West Supp.1999), was not "properly filed" within the meaning of § 2244(d)(2). Federal courts have begun to struggle with the meaning of the term "properly filed" as contemplated by the statute, and have developed different interpretive approaches. One court concluded that "properly filed" entails not only some notion of procedural propriety but also a threshold inquiry into substantive merit, see Valentine v. Senkowski, 966 F.Supp. 239, 240-41 (S.D.N.Y.1997), but that decision has been recently overruled, see Bennett v. Artuz, 199 F.3d 116 (2d Cir.1999). Others have ruled that a "properly filed" state-court petition must comply only with the procedural requirements for filing, such as place, fee payment, and notice. Some opinions have clarified that these procedural formalities include state filing deadlines. See Hoggro v. Boone, 150 F.3d 1223, 1226 & n. 4 (10th Cir.1998); Lovasz v. Vaughn, 134 F.3d 146, 148-49 (3d Cir.1998). Conversely, other...

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