Holland v. Florida

Decision Date14 June 2010
Docket NumberNo. 09–5327.,09–5327.
PartiesAlbert HOLLAND, Petitioner, v. FLORIDA.
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Todd G. Scher, Miami Beach, FL, appointed by this Court, for petitioner.

Solicitor General Scott D. Makar, Tallahassee, FL, for respondent.

Carolyn M. Snurkowski, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Candance M. Sabella, Chief, Assistant Attorney General, Sandra S. Jaggard, Lisa–Marie Lerner, Assistant Attorneys General, Tallahassee, FL, Bill McCollum, Attorney General of Florida, Scott D. Makar, Solicitor General, Louis F. Hubener, Chief Deputy Solicitor General, Counsel of Record, Craig D. Feiser, Timothy D. Osterhaus, Courtney Brewer, Ronald A. Lathan, Deputy Solicitors General, Tallahassee, FL, for State of Florida.

Todd G. Scher (Counsel of Record), Law Office of Todd G. Scher, P.L., Miami Beach, FL, for Petitioner.


Justice BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We here decide that the timeliness provision in the federal habeas corpus statute is subject to equitable tolling. See Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). We also consider its application in this case. In the Court of Appeals' view, when a petitioner seeks to excuse a late filing on the basis of his attorney's unprofessional conduct, that conduct, even if it is “negligent” or “grossly negligent,” cannot “rise to the level of egregious attorney misconduct” that would warrant equitable tolling unless the petitioner offers “proof of bad faith, dishonesty, divided loyalty, mental impairment or so forth.” 539 F.3d 1334, 1339 (C.A.11 2008) (per curiam). In our view, this standard is too rigid. See Irwin v. Department of Veterans Affairs,

498 U.S. 89, 96, 111 S.Ct. 453, 112 L.Ed.2d 435 (1990); see also Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 336, 127 S.Ct. 1079, 166 L.Ed.2d 924 (2007). We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings.


AEDPA states that [a] 1–year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court.” § 2244(d)(1). It also says that [t]he time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction ... review” is “pending shall not be counted” against the 1–year period. § 2244(d)(2).

On January 19, 2006, Albert Holland filed a pro se habeas corpus petition in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Both Holland (the petitioner) and the State of Florida (the respondent) agree that, unless equitably tolled, the statutory limitations period applicable to Holland's petition expired approximately five weeks before the petition was filed. See Brief for Respondent 9, and n. 7; Brief for Petitioner 5, and n. 4. Holland asked the District Court to toll the limitations period for equitable reasons. We shall set forth in some detail the record facts that underlie Holland's claim.


In 1997, Holland was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The Florida Supreme Court affirmed that judgment. Holland v. State, 773 So.2d 1065 (Fla.2000). On October 1, 2001, this Court denied Holland's petition for certiorari. 534 U.S. 834, 122 S.Ct. 83, 151 L.Ed.2d 46. And on that date—the date that our denial of the petition ended further direct review of Holland's conviction—the 1–year AEDPA limitations clock began to run. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A); Jimenez v. Quarterman, 555 U.S. 113, ––––, 129 S.Ct. 681, 687–87, 172 L.Ed.2d 475 (2009).

Thirty-seven days later, on November 7, 2001, Florida appointed attorney Bradley Collins to represent Holland in all state and federal postconviction proceedings. Cf. Fla. Stat. §§ 27.710, 27.711(2) (2007). By September 19, 2002—316 days after his appointment and 12 days before the 1–year AEDPA limitations period expired—Collins, acting on Holland's behalf, filed a motion for postconviction relief in the state trial court. Cf. Brief for Respondent 9, n. 7. That filing automatically stopped the running of the AEDPA limitations period, § 2244(d)(2), with, as we have said, 12 days left on the clock.

For the next three years, Holland's petition remained pending in the state courts. During that time, Holland wrote Collins letters asking him to make certain that all of his claims would be preserved for any subsequent federal habeas corpus review. Collins wrote back, stating, “I would like to reassure you that we are aware of state-time limitations and federal exhaustion requirements.” App. 55. He also said that he would “presen[t] ... to the ... federal courts any of Holland's claims that the state courts denied. Ibid. In a second letter Collins added, “should your Motion for Post–Conviction Relief be denied” by the state courts, “your state habeas corpus claims will then be ripe for presentation in a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court.” Id., at 61.

In mid-May 2003 the state trial court denied Holland relief, and Collins appealed that denial to the Florida Supreme Court. Almost two years later, in February 2005, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case. See 539 F.3d, at 1337. But during that 2–year period, relations between Collins and Holland began to break down. Indeed, between April 2003 and January 2006, Collins communicated with Holland only three times—each time by letter. See No. 1:06–cv–20182–PAS (SD Fla., Apr. 27, 2007), p. 7, n. 6 (hereinafter District Court opinion), App. 91, n. 6.

Holland, unhappy with this lack of communication, twice wrote to the Florida Supreme Court, asking it to remove Collins from his case. In the second letter, filed on June 17, 2004, he said that he and Collins had experienced “a complete breakdown in communication.” App. 160. Holland informed the court that Collins had “not kept [him] updated on the status of [his] capital case” and that Holland had “not seen or spoken to” Collins “since April 2003.” Id., at 150. He wrote, “Mr. Collins has abandoned [me] and said, [I have] no idea what is going on with [my] capital case on appeal.” Id., at 152. He added that “Collins has never made any reasonable effort to establish any relationship of trust or confidence with [me],” id., at 155, and stated that he “does not trust” or have “any confidence in Mr. Collin's ability to represent [him],” id., at 152. Holland concluded by asking that Collins be “dismissed (removed) off his capital case” or that he be given a hearing in order to demonstrate Collins' deficiencies. Id., at 155, 161. The State responded that Holland could not file any pro se papers with the court while he was represented by counsel, including papers seeking new counsel. Id., at 42–45. The Florida Supreme Court agreed and denied Holland's requests. Id., at 46.

During this same period Holland wrote various letters to the Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court. In the last of these he wrote, [I]f I had a competent, conflict-free, postconviction, appellate attorney representing me, I would not have to write you this letter. I'm not trying to get on your nerves. I just would like to know exactly what is happening with my case on appeal to the Supreme Court of Florida.” Id., at 147. During that same time period, Holland also filed a complaint against Collins with the Florida Bar Association, but the complaint was denied. Id., at 65–67.

Collins argued Holland's appeal before the Florida Supreme Court on February 10, 2005. 539 F.3d, at 1337. Shortly thereafter, Holland wrote to Collins emphasizing the importance of filing a timely petition for habeas corpus in federal court once the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling. Specifically, on March 3, 2005, Holland wrote:

“Dear Mr. Collins, P. A.:
“How are you? Fine I hope.
“I write this letter to ask that you please write me back, as soon as possible to let me know what the status of my case is on appeal to the Supreme Court of Florida.
“If the Florida Supreme Court denies my [postconviction] and State Habeas Corpus appeals, please file my 28 U.S.C. 2254 writ of Habeas Corpus petition, before my deadline to file it runs out (expires).
“Thank you very much.
“Please have a nice day.” App. 210 (emphasis added).

Collins did not answer this letter.

On June 15, 2005, Holland wrote again:

“Dear Mr. Collins:
“How are you? Fine I hope.
“On March 3, 2005 I wrote you a letter, asking that you let me know the status of my case on appeal to the Supreme Court of Florida.
“Also, have you begun preparing my 28 U.S.C. § 2254 writ of Habeas Corpus petition? Please let me know, as soon as possible.
“Thank you.” Id., at 212 (emphasis added).

But again, Collins did not reply.

Five months later, in November 2005, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision denying Holland relief. Holland v. State, 916 So.2d 750 (per curiam). Three weeks after that, on December 1, 2005, the court issued its mandate, making its decision final. 539 F.3d, at 1337. At that point, the AEDPA federal habeas clock again began to tick—with 12 days left on the 1–year meter. See Coates v. Byrd, 211 F.3d 1225 (C.A.11 2000) (per curiam) (AEDPA clock restarts when state court completes postconviction review); Lawrence, 549 U.S. 327, 127 S.Ct. 1079 (same). Twelve days later, on December 13, 2005, Holland's AEDPA time limit expired.


Four weeks after the AEDPA time limit expired, on January 9, 2006, Holland, still unaware of the Florida Supreme Court ruling issued in his case two months earlier, wrote Collins a third letter:

“Dear Mr. Bradley M. Collins:
“How are you? Fine I hope.
“I write this letter to ask that you please let me know the status of my appeals before the Supreme Court of Florida. Have my appeals been decided yet?
“Please send me the [necessary information] ... so that I can determine when the deadline will be to file my 28 U.S.C. Rule 2254 Federal Habeas Corpus Petition, in accordance with all United States Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit case law and applicable Antiterrorism and Effective Death

To continue reading

Request your trial
10133 cases
  • Baker v. Boeing Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • May 19, 2021
    ...circumstances prevented them from filing on time." Raplee v. United States, 842 F.3d 328, 333 (4th Cir. 2016) (citing Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010) (emphasis removed). Equitable tolling is available in "those rare instances where—due to circumstances external to the party's o......
  • Weaver v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Georgia
    • October 2, 2020
    ...his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way' and prevented timely filing." Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010) (quoting Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005)); see also Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 336 (2007). Nevertheless, equ......
  • Chae v. Sec'y of the Treasury
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of International Trade
    • May 7, 2021
    ...of limitations is normally "subject to a ‘rebuttable presumption’ in favor ‘of equitable tolling.’ " Holland v. Florida , 560 U.S. 631, 645-46, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 177 L.Ed.2d 130 (2010) (quoting Irwin , 498 U.S. at 95-96, 111 S.Ct. 453 ) (emphasis supplied). Additionally, the Supreme Court has......
  • Castrellon v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Texas
    • March 17, 2022
    ...for the motion. Id. The one-year limitations period is not jurisdictional and is subject to equitable tolling. Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010). Equitable tolling is not, however, available for “‘garden variety claims of excusable neglect.'” Lookingbill v. Cockrell, 293 F.3d 256......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 books & journal articles
  • Possible Reliance: Protecting Legally Innocent Johnson Claimants.
    • United States
    • Michigan Law Review Vol. 119 No. 2, November 2020
    • November 1, 2020
    ...understands conviction as a stronger indicator of guilt). (156.) Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478,496 (1986). (157.) Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (158.) McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. 383, 386-87 (2013). (159.) 28 U.S.C. [section][section] 2244, 2254. (160.) 142 CONG. REC. 7792 (199......
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 96 No. 1, November 2020
    • November 1, 2020
    ...evidence despite apparent violation of the time period in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(2)). (206) See, e.g., Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645-47 (2010) (holding that habeas limitations period was subject to equitable (207) For discussions of (his sort of supervisory power, see......
  • Expanding cause: how federal courts should address severe psychiatric impairments that impact state post-conviction review
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review No. 60-1, January 2023
    • January 1, 2023
    ...Id. (citing Jamison v. Lockhart, 975 F.2d 1377, 1380 (8th Cir. 1992)). 174. Id. at 271, 289. 175. See id. at 281–82; Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010) (quoting Holland v. Florida, 539 F.3d 1334, 1339 (11th Cir. 2008) (per curiam)). 176. See Holland , 560 U.S. at 649, 653–54. 177.......
    • United States
    • September 1, 2020
    ...States v. Clay. 921 F.3d 550. 559 (5th Cir. 2019). (92.) See supra note 43 and accompanying text. (93.) See, e.g., Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 648 (2010) (noting that "AEDPA seeks to eliminate delays in the federal habeas review process"); United States v. Brooks, 230 F.3d 643, 648 (3......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT