Clemente v. Lee, No. 21-279-pr, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 16892 (2d Cir. July 5, 2023)
The Second Circuit reiterated that a single timely filed claim in a habeas petition with multiple claims does not make the entire petition (or application) timely. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) and its statute of limitations for habeas corpus petitions, under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), does say that an “application” is timely filed if it meets any of the four statutes of limitations. However, the court agreed with numerous other circuits which have all held that the one-year AEDPA limit applies on a claim-by-claim basis.
The court concluded that applying the statute of limitations on a claim-by-claim basis allows for a more precise determination of the timeliness of each claim. It highlighted that Clemente’s proposed approach could create confusion and make it impossible to determine the applicable statute of limitations in cases involving multiple claims with different factual predicates.
The court also rejected the argument that the use of the term “application” in the statute precludes a claim-by-claim analysis. It cited previous court decisions and Supreme Court dicta to support the claim that the statute requires both an application-based approach and a claim-by-claim consideration in certain circumstances.
Furthermore, the court reasoned that Clemente’s interpretation frustrates Congress’s intent in enacting AEDPA, which was to promote finality and reduce delays in the habeas corpus process. The court contends that adopting Clemente’s approach would allow stale and untimely claims to be revived based on the inclusion of a single, timely claim. This would contradict the purpose of the statute of limitations.
What does this mean for anyone seeking habeas relief? If any of your claims fall under one of the one-year deadlines other than the standard one-year deadline from the criminal judgment becoming final, then make sure you point that out in your petition (or motion, for federal prisoners). Don’t let your timely claim(s) sink with the untimely ones.
I go over all these details on timeliness under the AEDPA in my books “INSIDER’S GUIDE: HABEAS CORPUS FOR FEDERAL PRISONERS” and “INSIDER’S GUIDE: FEDERAL HABEAS CORPUS FOR STATE PRISONERS.” Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for them, once the new versions are released.