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Supreme Court to decide if leniency plea delays habeas statute of limitations

The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in one case. In Wall v. Kholi [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will decide whether a state court sentence-reduction motion consisting of a plea for leniency constitutes an "application for State post-conviction or other collateral review" under 28 USC s. 2244(d)(2) [text], resulting in an extension of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's (AEDPA) [text, PDF] one-year limitations period for a state prisoner to file a federal habeas corpus petition. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit [official website] reversed the district court's judgment that a petition for leniency is different from an appeal to correct legal errors and therefore does not result in a tolling of the statute of limitations under AEDPA. The First Circuit's decision was in line with a Tenth Circuit ruling on the same issue, but the Third, Fourth and Eleventh Circuits had previously ruled that a petition for leniency does not toll the statute of limitations under AEDPA.

Kholi was initially convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 10 life sentences, six running concurrently to four consecutive. He appealed his conviction to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, which affirmed the convictions in 1996, but he did not file a federal writ of habeas corpus at that time. He then filed a motion seeking sentence reduction as a form of post-conviction relief, which was denied. Kholi exhausted his procedural options regarding sentence reduction in 2007, at which time he began his appeal for federal writ of habeas corpus, well beyond AEDPA's standard one-year limitation on filing.

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