Patterson v. Stewart, PETITIONER-APPELLANT

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtFisher
Citation251 F.3d 1243
Parties(9th Cir. 2001) DONALD RAY PATTERSON,, v. TERRY L. STEWART,
Decision Date30 May 2001

Page 1243

251 F.3d 1243 (9th Cir. 2001)
No. 00-15034
Argued and Submitted March 13, 2001
Filed May 30, 2001

Page 1244

Jason D. Hawkins, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Phoenix, Arizona, for the petitioner-appellant.

John Pressley Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Appeals Section, Phoenix, Arizona, for the respondentappellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court District of Arizona Paul G. Rosenblatt, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. CV-98-01169-PGR

Before: Stephen Reinhardt, Pamela Ann Rymer and Raymond C. Fisher, Circuit Judges.

Fisher, Circuit Judge

On June 19, 1998, Donald Ray Patterson filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court challenging the constitutionality of his conviction for sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated assault and burglary. The district court dismissed Patterson's petition as untimely, concluding that Patterson had filed his petition one day too late. Patterson now appeals, claiming the district court failed to calculate the limitations period properly, and in so doing denied him the benefit of one crucial day -- the day on which he filed his petition. To resolve this question, we must decide the proper method for calculating the one-year grace period for federal habeas corpus petitioners whose convictions became final before the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) was enacted. We hold that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a), the general rule for counting time in federal courts, applies to the calculation of the one-year grace period and, accordingly, that Patterson's federal petition -- when credited with applicable statutory tolling -- was timely.1


An Arizona jury convicted Patterson in 1990 of the 1984 rape of a woman whose identification testimony was the principal evidence against him at trial. He vigorously maintained his innocence, contending the victim's identification was erroneous.

Shortly after his trial, Patterson moved to vacate the judgment based on new evidence that allegedly called the victim's identification of Patterson into question. After a hearing, the trial court denied his motion. Patterson then appealed his conviction to the Arizona Court of Appeals and to the Arizona Supreme Court, arguing his conviction was based on inconsistent verdicts. The Arizona Court of Appeals denied his appeal on September 30, 1993, and the Arizona Supreme Court denied review on May 17, 1994.

Page 1245

On April 19, 1994, Patterson filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief with the trial court claiming, among other things, that his trial and appellate counsel had been ineffective for failing to raise issues relating to the suppression of the victim's identification. After the trial court denied his petition, Patterson pursued post-conviction relief before the Arizona Court of Appeals. On January 28, 1997, the court of appeals dismissed Patterson's petition as untimely. Patterson sought review by the Arizona Supreme Court; however, the court denied his petition on June 19, 1997.

One year later, on June 19, 1998, Patterson filed two pro se habeas petitions in federal court for the District of Arizona, pressing his ineffective assistance of counsel claims.2 The State of Arizona moved for summary judgment on the merits and because Patterson's habeas petitions were untimely under the one-year statute of limitations of 28 U.S.C.§§ 2244(d). The district court dismissed the petition, concluding that Patterson's petition had been filed one day too late.


This Court reviews de novo a district court's dismissal of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on statute-of-limitations grounds. Miles v. Prunty, 187 F.3d 1104, 1105 (9th Cir. 1999). Because Patterson's petition was filed after AEDPA's effective date, on April 24, 1996, the provisions of that Act apply to this case. See Smith v. Robbins, 528 U.S. 259, 268 n.3 (2000).

AEDPA imposes a one-year statute of limitations on habeas corpus petitions filed by state prisoners in federal court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244(d)(1).3 State prisoners, like Patterson, whose convictions became final prior to AEDPA's enactment, had a one-year grace period in which to file their petitions. Calderon v. United States Dist. Ct. (Beeler), 128 F.3d 1283, 1286 (9th Cir. 1997), overruled in part on other grounds by Calderon v. United States Dist. Ct. (Kelly), 163 F.3d 530, 540 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc). This court has stated, in dictum, that the one-year grace period expired on April 23, 1997. Calderon (Beeler), 128 F.3d at 1287. Patterson, however, contends the grace period actually expired on April 24, 1997. Patterson's argument regarding the extra day hinges on whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a) governs the calculation of the relevant limitations period.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a), the general rule for counting time in federal courts, reads:

Page 1246

In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these rules, by the local rules of any district court, by order of court, or by any applicable statute, the day of the act, event, or default from which the designated period of time begins to run...

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