11 Circuit holds that Martinez and Trevino are inapplicable to violations of the statute of limitations
Posted on: 1/6/2014 04:28:35 PM by Peoples
In Arthur v. Thomas, 12-13952 (11th Cir. Jan. 6, 2014), the Eleventh Circuit (Hull, with Marcus and Wilson) affirmed the district court’s denial of Alabama death row inmate Thomas Arthur’s Rule 60(b) motion that argued that Martinez v. Ryan and Trevino v. Thaler provided grounds for reopening federal habeas proceedings that had been terminated due to Arthur’s failure to comply with the statute of limitations.  In finding Martinez and Trevino inapplicable to Arthur’s situation, the panel explained: "Arthur’s case does not involve 'cause' under the procedural default doctrine. Arthur’s § 2254 petition was dismissed because he filed it well after AEDPA’s limitations period expired, and he showed no basis for tolling. See Arthur, 452 F.3d at 1250-54. Arthur’s case concerns only the operation of a federal rule—namely, the operation of AEDPA’s one-year statute of limitations. It was wholly the operation of AEDPA’s federal limitations period—independent of any state procedural rule—that barred Arthur’s § 2254 petition. Because Arthur’s § 2254 petition was denied due to his complete failure to timely file that § 2254 petition, the Supreme Court’s analysis in Martinez and Trevino of when and how 'cause' might excuse noncompliance with a state procedural rule is wholly inapplicable here."

As for Arthur’s contention that the court should broaden the equitable reasoning behind the Martinez rule and apply it to his case, the panel responded: “[A]ny such broadening would ignore the Supreme Court’s emphatic statements that the Martinez rule creates only a narrow exception to Coleman’s general rule.”

The panel further found that even assuming the Martinez rationale could be extended to the statute of limitations context, Arthur still would not prevail because a change in decisional law is insufficient to create the “extraordinary circumstance” necessary to invoke Rule 60(b).