Lawrence v. Florida

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In Lawrence v. Florida, 127 S. Ct. 1079 (2007), the U.S. Supreme Court (5-4) held that a state application is not still "pending" when the state courts have entered a final judgment on the matter but a petition for certiorari has been filed in this Court.

Congress established a 1-year statute of limitations for seeking federal habeas corpus relief from a state-court judgment, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), and further provided that the limitations period is tolled while an "application for State post-conviction or other collateral review" "is pending," § 2244(d)(2).

The 5-4 Court, with the liberal wing dissenting, held that the limitations period is not tolled during the pending of a petition for certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court.

This creates a surprising "gotcha" for criminal defense attorneys who might expect the limitations period to be tolled during the pendency of a petition for appeal.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for 4 Justices in dissent, stated:

In sum, the majority's reading is neither compelled by the text of § 2244(d)(2) nor practically sound. By cutting off tolling before this Court has had an opportunity to consider a pending petition for certiorari, the Court's holding will unnecessarily encumber the federal courts with anticipatory filings and deprive unwitting litigants of the opportunity to pursue their constitutional claims -- all without furthering the purposes of AEDPA.