Hall v. SECRETARY, DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS

Decision Date12 April 2019
Docket NumberNo. 18-10767,18-10767
Citation921 F.3d 983
Parties Wyndel R. HALL, Petitioner-Appellant, v. SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Attorney General, State of Florida, Respondents-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Wyndel R. Hall, Pro Se, Bowling Green, FL, for Petitioner-Appellant.

Elba Caridad Martin-Schomaker, Pam Bondi, Attorney General's Office, Criminal Division, Tampa, FL, for Respondents-Appellees.

Before TJOFLAT, MARCUS and ROSENBAUM, Circuit Judges.

TJOFLAT, Circuit Judge:

Wyndel R. Hall, a Florida prisoner proceeding pro se , appeals from the District Court’s dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition as untimely. On appeal, he argues that the District Court erred by failing to toll the statute of limitations of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") from the date he filed a deficient motion in state court pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850. Relying on Green v. Secretary, Department of Corrections , 877 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. 2017), he argues that his later-filed, corrected Rule 3.850 motion related back to his deficient motion, thus tolling the limitations period. For the reasons set forth below, we vacate the District Court’s order and remand for further proceedings.

I.

Hall was convicted of one count of capital sexual battery1 and one count of resisting arrest or obstructing an officer without violence by a Polk County jury in 2010. He appealed, and the state appellate court affirmed his convictions and sentence on March 28, 2012. See Hall v. State , 96 So.3d 895 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012) (unpublished table opinion). He did not petition the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of certiorari. Thus, his conviction became final for AEDPA purposes on June 26, 2012. See Bond v. Moore , 309 F.3d 770, 774 (11th Cir. 2002) (holding that AEDPA’s limitations period does not begin to run until the 90-day window during which petitioner could have petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for writ of certiorari expires). Unless tolled, the AEDPA limitations period gave Hall until June 26, 2013, to file his federal habeas petition.

On April 11, 2013—289 days after the AEDPA limitations period began to run, with 76 days remaining—Hall filed a motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) to correct his sentence. This tolled the limitations period for the entirety of the Rule 3.800(a) proceeding, including the eventual appeal. Evans v. Chavis , 546 U.S. 189, 191, 126 S.Ct. 846, 849, 163 L.Ed.2d 684 (2006) (explaining that a postconviction motion is pending for AEDPA purposes during the period between the lower court’s adverse decision and the filing of a timely notice of appeal from that decision). The state appellate court issued its mandate on December 26, 2013, thus restarting Hall’s AEDPA clock with 76 remaining days.

Fourteen days later on January 9, 2014, Hall filed an amended motion for postconviction relief in state court pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850. At this point, Hall was down to 62 days. In his Rule 3.850 motion, Hall raised eight claims of ineffective assistance counsel, the same claims Hall would later raise in his § 2254 petition. The amended motion did not comply with Rule 3.850(n)(2), which required Hall to certify that he could understand English or that he’d had the motion translated into a language he could understand. Consequently, on February 14, 2014, the state habeas court dismissed Hall’s motion "without prejudice to re-file a facially sufficient amended motion within sixty (60) days." State v. Hall , No. 08CF-4968-XX (Fla. Cir. Ct. Feb. 14, 2014). Hall then filed a second amended motion for postconviction relief as the court instructed on February 24, 2014. The state court denied the motion, and the denial was affirmed on appeal. The state appellate court issued its mandate on December 4, 2014.

Hall filed the present § 2254 petition on January 13, 2015. The State moved to dismiss Hall’s petition as untimely under AEDPA’s statute of limitations. According to the State, Hall’s AEDPA clock—which the State identified as having begun on June 28, 20122 —expired December 22, 2014, rendering his January 13, 2015 § 2254 petition untimely. The State argued that Hall’s initial Rule 3.850 motion, which he filed when he was 62 days short of AEDPA’s statute of limitations, was not "properly filed" for AEDPA-tolling purposes because Hall failed to certify that he understood English. Instead, Hall’s AEDPA clock wasn’t tolled until he filed his second amended Rule 3.850 motion on February 24, 2014, leaving him only 16 days once the state court disposed of that motion. And because the state court issued its mandate on the Rule 3.850 motion on December 4, 2014, Hall’s AEDPA clock expired on December 22, 20143 —22 days before he filed his § 2254 petition on January 13, 2015.

The District Court agreed with the State and dismissed Hall’s motion. Hall timely appealed.

II.

We review de novo the dismissal of a federal habeas petition as time barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Cole v. Warden, Ga. State Prison , 768 F.3d 1150, 1155 (11th Cir. 2014).

AEDPA establishes a one-year statute of limitations for federal habeas petitions filed by state prisoners, which runs from "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). The time for seeking direct review includes the 90-day window in which the petitioner could have petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of certiorari. Bond , 309 F.3d at 774.

As for tolling, the one-year limitations period for filing a § 2254 petition is tolled during the time in "which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). AEDPA does not define "collateral review," but the Supreme Court has defined "collateral review" as "judicial review that occurs in a proceeding outside of the direct review process." Wall v. Kholi , 562 U.S. 545, 560, 131 S.Ct. 1278, 1289, 179 L.Ed.2d 252 (2011). Regarding Florida proceedings, we recognize the following as "application[s] for State post-conviction or other collateral review" under § 2244(d)(2) : (1) a motion for state postconviction relief filed pursuant to Rule 3.850, See Day v. Crosby , 391 F.3d 1192, 1192–93 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam); (2) a motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Rule 3.800(a), Ford v. Moore , 296 F.3d 1035, 1036, 1040 (11th Cir. 2002) (per curiam); and (3) a motion for rehearing on the denial of a motion to correct an illegal sentence, Nix v. Sec’y, Dep’t of Corr. , 393 F.3d 1235, 1237 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam). Any appeals filed in a state court from the denial of these motions also qualify as "application[s] for State post-conviction or other collateral review." See Ford , 296 F.3d at 1040.

The issue in this case is whether Hall’s initial Rule 3.850 motion—the one filed January 9, 2014, that was later dismissed because it lacked the Rule 3.850(n)(2) certification—tolled AEDPA’s statute of limitations. If it did, Hall had 62 days after the state court ruled on it to file his § 2254 motion. But if the initial Rule 3.850 did not toll the Hall’s AEDPA clock, he only had 16 days after the state court decided the Rule 3.850 motion to file his § 2254 motion. His January 13, 2015 § 2254 motion fell within the 62-day window, but not within the 16-day window.

Whether the initial Rule 3.850 motion tolled Hall’s AEDPA clock turns on whether that motion was a "properly filed" application for state post-conviction relief. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). This is a question of state law. See Wade v. Battle , 379 F.3d 1254, 1260 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam). Under Florida law, a motion for post-conviction relief under Rule 3.850 must contain a certification from the defendant that he understands English or that he has had the motion completely translated into a language he understands. Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850(n)(2). Failure to comply with this requirement is grounds for dismissing the motion. Id . And if one fails to comply with this requirement, one’s motion is not "properly filed" under § 2244(d)(2).

This is not the first occasion we’ve been asked to determine whether a petitioner’s defective filing in a Florida collateral proceeding tolled AEDPA’s statute of limitations. In Hurley v. Moore , 233 F.3d 1295 (11th Cir. 2000) (per curiam), we held that a state prisoner’s deficient Rule 3.850 motion was not "properly filed" because it was missing the oath required by Rule 3.850(c). In that case, the state habeas court denied the petitioner’s motion without prejudice to refile a timely and properly sworn motion, but the petitioner chose instead to pursue a rehearing, and eventually an appeal, of the denial. Id. at 1296–97. After he lost his appeal—more than a year after his conviction became final under AEDPA—the petitioner filed a properly sworn Rule 3.850 motion. Id. at 1297. But by then it was too late: we held that the one-year statute of limitations under AEDPA was not tolled because the original deficient motion was not properly filed. Id. at 1298.

By contrast, in Green v. Secretary, Department of Corrections , the petitioner initially filed an amended motion that did not comply with the oath requirement under Rule 3.850(c). 877 F.3d at 1246. The state court denied the motion with instructions to refile with a sufficient oath within 30 days. Id. The petitioner did so, and the state court denied his motion on the merits, which the state appellate court ultimately affirmed. Id. He later filed a § 2254 motion, which the District Court dismissed as untimely. Id. According to the District Court, the petitioner’s initial Rule 3.850 motion was not "properly filed," and thus did not toll AEDPA’s statute of limitations, because it was improperly sworn. Id. It was only when the...

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