295 F.3d 517 (6th Cir. 2002), 00-2036, Cook v. Stegall

Docket Nº:00-2036.
Citation:295 F.3d 517
Party Name:Theodore COOK, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Jimmy STEGALL, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:July 01, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 517

295 F.3d 517 (6th Cir. 2002)

Theodore COOK, Petitioner-Appellant,


Jimmy STEGALL, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 00-2036.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 1, 2002

Argued: June 11, 2002.Page 518

Andrew N. Wise (briefed), James R. Gerometta, Federal Public Defenders Office, Detroit, MI, for Appellant.

Laura Graves Moody (briefed), Office of Atty. General Habeas Corpus Div., Lansing, MI, Raina I. Korbais (argued), Dept. of Atty. General, Lansing, MI, for Appellee.

Before KEITH and DAUGHTREY, Circuit Judges; MARBLEY, District Judge.[*]


KEITH, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner Theodore Cook ("Cook") appeals the district court's dismissal with prejudice of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus because it was untimely. Cook presents three issues on appeal: whether he received adequate notice of his April 24, 1997 filing deadline when no controlling authority had set the deadline until after that date; whether the common law mailbox rule applies to the mailing of his habeas petition to a third party, who in turn filed the petition at a later date; and whether the statute of limitations should have been equitably tolled.

For the reasons discussed below, we AFFIRM the dismissal of the petition.


Cook was convicted of First Degree Murder in January 1982 in the Recorders Court for the City of Detroit, Michigan. His state court appeals were exhausted and his conviction finalized on June 3, 1985, when the Michigan Supreme Court denied Cook's application for leave to appeal.

Cook did not file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus until 1997. Cook's initial petition was marked received by the Clerk's Office of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on May 21, 1997. The petition was rejected and returned to Cook because it was neither accompanied by the five-dollar filing fee nor an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Cook's subsequent petition, accompanied by an application to proceed in forma pauperis, was marked received by the Clerk's Office on July 16, 1997. Additionally, the application to proceed

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in forma pauperis was dated and notarized April 19,1997.

On September 22, 1997, Respondent Jimmy Stegall ("Respondent") filed a motion to dismiss the petition, alleging that it was untimely. Respondent claimed that under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Cook was required to file his petition on or before April 24,1997.

Cook responded to the motion, making three claims. First, Cook claimed that the petition had been timely filed by his daughter, Elaine Cook, and the Clerk's stamp of May 21, 1997 was a mistake. Second, Cook claimed that the common law mailbox rule applied to make his petition timely, as he mailed the petition to his daughter on April 19 or 20, 1997 to photocopy and file. Cook alleged that he had not learned of the April 24 deadline until April 22, at which point he immediately called his daughter and instructed her to file the petition. Finally, Cook claimed that because the prison copier was broken, the limitations period should have been equitably tolled.

Initially, the district court ruled that the mailbox rule should apply and found Cook's application timely. However, after granting a motion to reconsider filed by the Respondent, the district court reversed its ruling and denied the habeas petition because it was untimely.

On appeal, Cook argues that the district court improperly ruled that neither the mailbox rule nor equitable tolling applied to make his application timely. Additionally, Cook argues that he lacked adequate notice of the applicability of the AEDPA statute of limitations to his conviction, since it became effective only after his conviction was finalized.


A. Standard of Review

The disposition of a habeas petition by the district court is reviewed de novo. The dismissal of a habeas petition by the district court as barred by 28 U.S.C, § 2444's statute of limitations is reviewed de novo. Bronaugh v. Ohio, 235 F.3d 280, 282 (2000), reh'g and reh'g en banc denied, (2001). The factual findings of a district court are reviewed under a clearly erroneous standard. Lucas v. O'Dea, 179 F.3d 412, 416 (6th Cir. 1999).

B. Filing Deadline

On April 24, 1996, between the finalization of Cook's conviction and the filing of his habeas petition, the AEDPA became effective. The AEDPA amended 28 U.S.C. § 2244 to include a new one-year period of limitations for habeas petitions brought by prisoners challenging state court judgments. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). For prisoners like Cook, whose convictions were finalized prior to enactment of the AEDPA, this Circuit has ruled that they have one additional year after the Act's effective date to file a habeas petition. See Brown v. O'Dea, 187 F.3d 572, 577 (6th Cir. 1999), overruled on other grounds 530 U.S. 1257, 120 S.Ct. 2715, 147 L.Ed.2d 980 (2000). Therefore, Cook had until April 24, 1997 to file his habeas petition.

C. Notice of Deadline

Petitioner first argues that this deadline cannot be made applicable to him, since he lacked the adequate notice of the deadline that due process requires. While Cook filed his petition in 1997, the Sixth Circuit did not rule that prisoners whose convictions were finalized before the AEDPA became effective were subject to a one year limitations period until 1999. See id. Our precedents show that Cook was afforded

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a reasonable time to file his petition. Therefore, we affirm the district court's decision that applying the one-year limitations period to Cook does not violate due process.

In applying legislatively amended periods of limitation, courts typically construe them as "govern[ing] the secondary conduct of filing suit, not the primary conduct of the [parties]." St Louis v. Texas Worker's Compensation Commission, 65 F.3d 43, 46 (5th Cir. 1995). Similarly, it is often said that statutes of limitation go to matters of remedy rather than to fundamental rights. See, e.g., Chase Securities Corp. v....

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