Dodd v. U.S.

Decision Date20 June 2005
Docket NumberNo. 04-5286.,04-5286.
Citation162 L. Ed. 2d 343,125 S. Ct. 2478,545 U.S. 353
PartiesDODD v. UNITED STATES
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

On April 4, 2001, petitioner Dodd filed a pro se motion under 28 U. S. C. § 2255, claiming that his conviction for knowingly and intentionally engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, in violation of 21 U. S. C. §§ 841 and 846, should be set aside because it was contrary to Richardson v. United States, 526 U. S. 813, 815, which held that a jury must agree unanimously that a defendant is guilty of each of the specific violations that together constitute the continuing criminal enterprise. The District Court held that, because Richardson had been decided more than one year before Dodd filed his motion, the motion was untimely under § 2255, ¶ 6(3), which provides that § 2255's 1-year limitation period begins to run on "the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review." On appeal, Dodd argued that ¶ 6(3)'s limitation period began to run on April 19, 2002, the date the Eleventh Circuit recognized Richardson's retroactive application to cases on collateral review. The Eleventh Circuit held that the period began to run on June 1, 1999, the date that this Court initially decided Richardson.

Held:

1. The 1-year limitation period under ¶ 6(3) begins to run on the date on which this Court "initially recognized" the right asserted in an applicant's motion, not the date on which that right was made retroactive. The text of ¶ 6(3) unequivocally identifies one, and only one, date from which the limitation period is measured: "the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court." This Court presumes that a legislature says what it means and means what it says in a statute. Dodd's reliance on ¶ 6(3)'s second clause to identify the operative date is misplaced. That clause merely limits the subsection's applicability to cases in which applicants assert rights "newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review." Thus, ¶ 6(3)'s date — "the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court" — does not apply at all unless the conditions in the second clause are satisfied. This result may make it difficult for applicants filing second or successive § 2255 motions to obtain relief, since this Court rarely announces a new rule of constitutional law and makes it retroactive within a year, but the Court is not free to rewrite the statute that Congress has enacted. Pp. 356-360.

2. Because Dodd's § 2255 motion was filed more than a year after this Court decided Richardson, his motion was untimely. P. 360.

365 F. 3d 1273, affirmed.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined as to Part II, except for n. 4, post, p. 360. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER, J., joined, post, p. 371.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT.

Janice L. Bergmann argued the cause and filed briefs for petitioner.

James A. Feldman argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were Acting Solicitor General Clement, Assistant Attorney General Wray, and Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben.*

JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

Title 28 U. S. C. § 2255 establishes a "1-year period of limitation" within which a federal prisoner may file a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under that section. That period runs from "the latest" of a number of events, which are enumerated in subparagraphs (1) through (4) of ¶ 6 of that section. This case involves subparagraph (3), which provides that the limitation period begins to run on "the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review." We must decide whether the date from which the limitation period begins to run under ¶ 6(3) is the date on which this Court "initially recognized" the right asserted in an applicant's § 2255 motion, or whether, instead, it is the date on which the right is "made retroactiv[e]."

I

Petitioner Michael Donald Dodd was indicted on June 25, 1993, for knowingly and intentionally engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise in violation of 21 U. S. C. §§ 841 and 846, conspiring to possess with intent to distribute marijuana in violation of § 841(a)(1), conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of § 841(a)(1), and 16 counts of using and possessing a passport obtained by false statement in violation of 18 U. S. C. § 1546(a). He was convicted of all counts except the cocaine charge, and was sentenced to 360 months' imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed on May 7, 1997. 111 F. 3d 867 (per curiam). Because Dodd did not file a petition for certiorari, his conviction became final on August 6, 1997. See Clay v. United States, 537 U. S. 522, 525 (2003).

On April 4, 2001, more than three years after his conviction became final, Dodd filed a pro se motion under 28 U. S. C. § 2255 seeking to set aside his conviction for knowingly and intentionally engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, based on our decision in Richardson v. United States, 526 U. S. 813 (1999). Richardson held that a jury must agree unanimously that a defendant is guilty of each of the specific violations that together constitute the continuing criminal enterprise. Id., at 815. Dodd argued, among other things, that he was entitled to relief because his jury had not been instructed that they had to agree unanimously on each predicate violation. App. 9. The District Court dismissed Dodd's § 2255 motion as time barred. Id., at 11-15. Because Richardson had been decided more than one year before Dodd filed his motion, the court held that the motion was untimely; it also rejected Dodd's request for equitable tolling. App. 13-15.

Dodd appealed, arguing that the limitation period in § 2255, ¶ 6(3), did not begin to run until April 19, 2002, when the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held in Ross v. United States, 289 F. 3d 677 (per curiam), that the right recognized in Richardson applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. The Eleventh Circuit held that the limitation period began to run on "the date the Supreme Court initially recognizes the right" — the date Richardson was decided — and accordingly affirmed the dismissal of Dodd's motion as time barred. 365 F. 3d 1273, 1283 (2004).

We granted certiorari, 543 U. S. 999 (2004), to resolve a conflict in the Courts of Appeals over when the limitation period in ¶ 6(3) begins to run. Compare, e. g., 365 F. 3d, at 1283 (case below) (period runs from date of Supreme Court decision initially recognizing right asserted); and United States v. Lopez, 248 F. 3d 427, 432-433 (CA5 2001) (same), with Pryor v. United States, 278 F. 3d 612, 616 (CA6 2002) (period does not begin to run until right has been held retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review); and United States v. Valdez, 195 F. 3d 544, 547-548 (CA9 1999) (same).

II

Section 2255, ¶ 6, provides:

"A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to a motion under this section. The limitation period shall run from the latest of —

"(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;

"(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;

"(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or

"(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence."

In most cases, the operative date from which the limitation period is measured will be the one identified in ¶ 6(1): "the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final." Ibid.; see also Clay, supra, at 524. But later filings are permitted where subparagraphs (2)-(4) apply. This case involves ¶ 6(3), which gives § 2255 applicants one year from "the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review." Dodd contends that under subparagraph (3), the limitation period runs from the date on which the right asserted was made retroactively applicable. The United States, on the other hand, argues that it runs from the date on which this Court initially recognized the right asserted.

We believe that the text of ¶ 6(3) settles this dispute. It unequivocally identifies one, and only one, date from which the 1-year limitation period is measured: "the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court." We "must presume that [the] legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there." Connecticut Nat. Bank v. Germain, 503 U. S. 249, 253-254 (1992). What Congress has said in ¶ 6(3) is clear: An applicant has one year from the date on which the right he asserts was initially recognized by this Court.

Dodd urges us to adopt a different interpretation. He contends that the second clause in ¶ 6(3) affects the applicable date under that provision. He reads ¶ 6(3) as containing "three...

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