Wyndell Hall v. Secretary, Department of Corrections (11th Cir. April 2019)

The Federal Docket

May 7, 2019

Section 2254/Tolling – For purposes of tolling under the AEDPA, when a defective state post-conviction motion is dismissed without prejudice, the amended motion relates back to the original filing, and the statute of limitations is tolled until the motion is denied with prejudice.

After being convicted of capital sexual battery and obstruction, and after his conviction was affirmed by the Florida Court of Appeals, Wyndel Hall filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. His motion was dismissed as untimely after the district court declined to toll the statute of limitations upon Hall’s filing of a deficient motion under Florida Rule 2.850 to correct his sentence in state court.

The Court vacated and remanded, holding that the district court erred by not tolling the statute of limitations upon Hall’s filing of a deficient motion, as Hall had filed an amended motion after the deficient motion was dismissed without prejudice.

The Court reviewed two prior opinions addressing whether defective motions in state court toll the AEDPA’s statute of limitations. In Hurley v. Moore, 233 F.3d 1295 (11th Cir. 2000), the petitioner’s deficient motion was not properly filed, and thus did not toll the statute of limitations, after he filed a defective order and then appealed the state court’s dismissal without prejudice. The Court held that the statute of limitations was not tolled during that appeal.

In contrast, in Green v. Secretary, Department of Corrections, 877 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. 2017), the statute of limitations was tolled upon the petitioner’s filing of a defective motion after the Court held that “when a postconviction motion is stricken with leave to amend, the amended motion relates back to the date of the original filing.”

The Court rejected the state’s argument that the statute of limitations is tolled only while a state postconviction motion is “pending” and that Hall’s motion wasn’t pending between its dismissal and his re-filing. Instead, the Court made clear that “a petitioner’s Rule 3.850 motion is ‘pending’ until it is denied with prejudice.” Accordingly, Hall’s motion was pending, and the AEDPA’s statute of limitations was tolled, from the moment he filed the defective motion until the state court denied his amended filed motion with prejudice. Hall’s § 2254 motion was therefore timely.

Judge Tjoflat specially concurred, writing that Bond v. Moore, 309 F.3d 770 (11th Cir. 2002), which held that AEDPA is tolled “until the expiration of the 90-day window in which the petitioner could have petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of certiorari on direct review,” should not apply to petitioners in Florida who do not seek review from the Florida Supreme Court.

Since Hall had not sought review of his conviction by the Florida Supreme Court, he could not seek certiorari review by SCOTUS, and the 90 day extension therefore should not have applied. Instead, since Hall had 30 days to seek review from the Florida Supreme Court, AEDPA should only have been tolled for 30 days after his Rule 3.850 motion was denied by the Florida Court of Appeals.

Appeal from Middle District of Florida

Opinion by Tjoflat, joined by Marcus and Rosenbaum

Special Concurrence by Tjoflat

Click to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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