Wood v. Milyard, No. 10–9995.

CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.
Citation182 L.Ed.2d 733,566 U.S. 463,132 S.Ct. 1826
Docket NumberNo. 10–9995.
Decision Date24 April 2012
Parties Patrick WOOD, Petitioner v. Kevin MILYARD, Warden, et al.

566 U.S. 463
132 S.Ct.
1826
182 L.Ed.2d 733

Patrick WOOD, Petitioner
v.
Kevin MILYARD, Warden, et al.

No. 10–9995.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued Feb. 27, 2012.
Decided April 24, 2012.


Kathleen A. Lord, Denver, CO, for Petitioner.

Daniel D. Domenico, Solicitor General, for Respondents.

Melissa Arbus Sherry for the United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the Respondents.

Raymond P. Moore, Federal Public Defender, Kathleen A. Lord, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Counsel of Record, Denver, CO, for Petitioner.

William S. Consovoy, Thomas R. McCarthy, J. Michael Connolly, Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, DC, John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Daniel D. Domenico, Solicitor General, Counsel of Record, John D. Seidel, John J. Fuerst III, Senior Assistant Attorneys General, Denver, CO, for Respondents.

Raymond P. Moore, Federal Public Defender, Kathleen A. Lord, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Counsel of Record, Denver, CO, for Petitioner.

Justice GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.

566 U.S. 465

This case concerns the authority of a federal court to raise, on its own motion, a statute of limitations defense to a habeas corpus petition. After state prisoner Patrick Wood filed a federal habeas corpus petition, the State twice informed the U.S. District Court that it "[would] not challenge, but [is] not conceding, the timeliness of Wood's habeas petition." App. 70a; see id ., at 87a. Thereafter, the District Court rejected Wood's claims on the merits. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit directed the parties to brief the question whether Wood's federal petition was timely. Post-briefing, the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of Wood's petition, but solely on the ground that it was untimely.

132 S.Ct. 1830
566 U.S. 466

Our precedent establishes that a court may consider a statute of limitations or other threshold bar the State failed to raise in answering a habeas petition. Granberry v. Greer, 481 U.S. 129, 134, 107 S.Ct. 1671, 95 L.Ed.2d 119 (1987) (exhaustion defense); Day v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 198, 202, 126 S.Ct. 1675, 164 L.Ed.2d 376 (2006) (statute of limitations defense). Does court discretion to take up timeliness hold when a State is aware of a limitations defense, and intelligently chooses not to rely on it in the court of first instance? The answer Day instructs is " no": A court is not at liberty, we have cautioned, to bypass, override, or excuse a State's deliberate waiver of a limitations defense. Id., at 202, 210, n. 11, 126 S.Ct. 1675. The Tenth Circuit, we accordingly hold, abused its discretion by resurrecting the limitations issue instead of reviewing the District Court's disposition on the merits of Wood's claims.

I

In the course of a 1986 robbery at a pizza shop in a Colorado town, the shop's assistant manager was shot and killed. Petitioner Patrick Wood was identified as the perpetrator. At a bench trial in January 1987, Wood was convicted of murder, robbery, and menacing, and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed Wood's convictions and sentence on direct appeal in May 1989, and the Colorado Supreme Court denied Wood's petition for certiorari five months later. Wood did not ask this Court to review his conviction in the 90 days he had to do so.

Wood then pursued postconviction relief, asserting constitutional infirmities in his trial, conviction, and sentence. Prior to the federal petition at issue here, which was filed in 2008, Wood, proceeding pro se, twice sought relief in state court. First, in 1995, he filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence pursuant to Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(c) (1984).1 He also asked the Colorado trial

566 U.S. 467

court to appoint counsel to aid him in pursuit of the motion. When some months passed with no responsive action, Wood filed a request for a ruling on his motion and accompanying request for counsel. The state court then granted Wood's plea for the appointment of counsel, but the record is completely blank on any further action regarding the 1995 motion. Second, Wood filed a new pro se motion for postconviction relief in Colorado court in 2004. On the first page of his second motion, he indicated that "[n]o other postconviction proceedings [had been] filed." Record in No. 08–cv–00247 (D Colo.), Doc. 15–5 (Exh. E), p. 1. The state court denied Wood's motion four days after receiving it.

Wood filed a federal habeas petition in 2008, which the District Court initially dismissed as untimely. App. 41a–46a. On reconsideration, the District Court vacated the dismissal and instructed the State to file a preanswer response "limited to addressing the affirmative defenses of timeliness ... and/or exhaustion of state court remedies." Id., at 64a–65a. On timeliness, the State represented in its preanswer response: "Respondents will not challenge, but are not conceding, the timeliness of Wood's [federal] habeas petition." Id., at 70a. Consistently, in its full answer to Wood's federal petition, the State repeated:

132 S.Ct. 1831

"Respondents are not challenging, but do not concede, the timeliness of the petition." Id., at 87a.

Disposing of Wood's petition, the District Court dismissed certain claims for failure to exhaust state remedies, and denied on the merits Wood's two remaining claims—one alleging a double jeopardy violation and one challenging the validity of Wood's waiver of his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. Id., at 96a–111a. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit ordered the parties to brief, along with the merits of Wood's double jeopardy and Sixth Amendment claims, "the timeliness

566 U.S. 468

of Wood's application for [federal habeas relief]." Id., at 129a. After briefing, the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of Wood's petition without addressing the merits; instead, the Tenth Circuit held the petition time barred. 403 Fed.Appx. 335 (2010). In so ruling, the Court of Appeals concluded it had authority to raise timeliness on its own motion. Id., at 337, n. 2. It further ruled that the State had not taken that issue off the table by declining to interpose a statute of limitations defense in the District Court. Ibid.

We granted review, 564 U.S. ––––, 132 S.Ct. 70, 180 L.Ed.2d 939 (2011), to resolve two issues: first, whether a court of appeals has the authority to address the timeliness of a habeas petition on the court's own initiative;2 second, assuming a court of appeals has such authority, whether the State's representations to the District Court in this case nonetheless precluded the Tenth Circuit from considering the timeliness of Wood's petition.

II

A

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 110 Stat. 1214, a state prisoner has one year to file a federal petition for habeas corpus relief, starting 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). For a prisoner whose judgment became final before AEDPA was enacted, the one-year limitations period runs from the AEDPA's effective date: April 24, 1996. See Serrano v. Williams, 383 F.3d 1181, 1183 (C.A.10 2004). "The one-year clock is stopped, however, during the time the petitioner's

566 U.S. 469

‘properly filed’ application for state postconviction relief ‘is pending.’ " Day, 547 U.S., at 201, 126 S.Ct. 1675 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) ).3

The state judgment against Wood became final on direct review in early 1990. See supra, at 1830. Wood's time for filing a federal petition therefore began to run on the date of AEDPA's enactment, April 24, 1996, and expired on April 24, 1997, unless Wood had a "properly filed" application for state postconviction relief "pending" in Colorado state court during that period. Wood maintains he had such an application pending on April 24, 1996: the Rule 35(c) motion he filed in 1995. That

132 S.Ct. 1832

motion, Wood asserts, remained pending (thus continuing to suspend the one-year clock) until at least August 2004, when he filed his second motion for postconviction relief in state court. The 2004 motion, the State does not contest, was "properly filed." Wood argues that this second motion further tolled the limitations period until February 5, 2007, exactly one year before he filed the federal petition at issue here. If Wood is correct that his 1995 motion remained "pending" in state court from April 1996 until August 2004, his federal petition would be timely.

In its preanswer response to Wood's petition, the State set forth its comprehension of the statute of limitations issue. It noted that Wood's "time for filing a habeas petition began to run on April 24, 1996, when the AEDPA became effective" and that Wood "had until April 24, 1997, plus any tolling periods, to timely file his habeas petition." App. 69a–70a. The State next identified the crucial question:...

To continue reading

Request your trial
269 practice notes
  • Greer v. United States, No. 16-4755
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 12 Septiembre 2019
    ...cases," and the government offers no compelling reasons to justify departing from our usual practice. Id. (quoting Wood v. Milyard , 566 U.S. 463, 473, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) ); see Jones Bros., Inc. v. Sec’y of Labor , 898 F.3d 669, 677–78 (6th Cir. 2018). In fact, the gove......
  • Fontenot v. Crow, No. 19-7045
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • 13 Julio 2021
    ...to consider an overlooked nonexhaustion argument only in "exceptional cases," bearing the interests of federal-state comity in mind. 566 U.S. 463, 471, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) (quoting Granberry , 481 U.S. at 132, 107 S.Ct. 1671 ).17 While maintaining that "exhaustion in stat......
  • U.S. v. Hopkins, No. 18-2046
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • 8 Abril 2019
    ...Courts may consider the timeliness of a § 2255 motion sua sponte unless the government affirmatively waives the issue. Wood v. Milyard , 566 U.S. 463, 473-74, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) (holding that the government had waived a timeliness defense by stating to the district court......
  • Guedes v. Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, No. 19-5042
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 1 Abril 2019
    ...we assume that the government's posture in this litigation would amount to a waiver rather than only a forfeiture. See Wood v. Milyard , 566 U.S. 463, 470 n.4, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) ("A waived claim or defense is one that a party has knowingly and intelligently relinquished......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
275 cases
  • Greer v. United States, No. 16-4755
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 12 Septiembre 2019
    ...cases," and the government offers no compelling reasons to justify departing from our usual practice. Id. (quoting Wood v. Milyard , 566 U.S. 463, 473, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) ); see Jones Bros., Inc. v. Sec’y of Labor , 898 F.3d 669, 677–78 (6th Cir. 2018). In fact, the gove......
  • Fontenot v. Crow, No. 19-7045
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • 13 Julio 2021
    ...to consider an overlooked nonexhaustion argument only in "exceptional cases," bearing the interests of federal-state comity in mind. 566 U.S. 463, 471, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) (quoting Granberry , 481 U.S. at 132, 107 S.Ct. 1671 ).17 While maintaining that "exhaustion in stat......
  • U.S. v. Hopkins, No. 18-2046
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • 8 Abril 2019
    ...Courts may consider the timeliness of a § 2255 motion sua sponte unless the government affirmatively waives the issue. Wood v. Milyard , 566 U.S. 463, 473-74, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) (holding that the government had waived a timeliness defense by stating to the district court......
  • Guedes v. Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, No. 19-5042
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 1 Abril 2019
    ...we assume that the government's posture in this litigation would amount to a waiver rather than only a forfeiture. See Wood v. Milyard , 566 U.S. 463, 470 n.4, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 182 L.Ed.2d 733 (2012) ("A waived claim or defense is one that a party has knowingly and intelligently relinquished......
  • 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