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Rhines v. Weber

Supreme Court of the United States

January 12, 2005, Argued ; March 30, 2005, Decided

No. 03-9046

Opinion

 [*271]   [**1531]  Justice O'Connor delivered the opinion of the Court.

We confront here the problem of a "mixed" petition for habeas corpus relief in which a state prisoner presents a federal court with a single petition containing some claims that have been exhausted in the state courts and some that have not. More precisely, we consider whether a federal district court has discretion to stay the mixed petition to allow the petitioner to present his unexhausted claims to the state  [*272]  court in the first instance, and then to return to federal court for review of his perfected petition.

 [**1532]  I

Petitioner Charles Russell Rhines was convicted in South Dakota state court of first-degree murder and third-degree burglary and sentenced to death. His conviction became final on December 2, 1996, when we denied his initial petition for certiorari.  Rhines v. South Dakota, 519 U.S. 1013, 136 L. Ed. 2d 410, 117 S. Ct. 522.  On December 5, 1996, Rhines filed a petition for state habeas corpus. App. 32. The state court denied his petition, and the Supreme Court of South Dakota affirmed on February 9, 2000,  Rhines v. Weber, 2000 SD 19, 608 N.W.2d 303. [****7]  Rhines filed his pro se petition for federal habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 [28 U.S.C.S. § 2254] in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota on February 22, 2000. App 3. Because the 1-year statute of limitations imposed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) was tolled while Rhines' state habeas corpus petition was pending, see 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) [28 U.S.C.S. § 2244(d)(2)], he still had more than 11 months left before the expiration of the limitations period.

With the assistance of court-appointed counsel, Rhines filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus and statement of exhaustion on November 20, 2000, asserting 35 claims of constitutional defects in his conviction and sentence. App. 39-60. The State challenged 12 of those claims as unexhausted. Id., at 72-79. On July 3, 2002, approximately 18 months after Rhines had filed his amended federal habeas corpus petition, the District Court held that 8 of the 35 claims had not been exhausted. At this time, the AEDPA 1-year statute of limitations had run. See  Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-182, 150 L. Ed. 2d 251, 121 S. Ct. 2120 (2001) (holding [****8]  that the statute of limitations is not tolled during the pendancy of a federal petition). As a result, if the District Court had dismissed Rhines' mixed petition at that point, he would  [*273]  have been unable to refile in federal court after exhausting the unexhausted claims.  [***449]  Rhines therefore moved the District Court to hold his pending habeas petition in abeyance while he presented his unexhausted claims to the South Dakota courts. On July 3, 2002, the District Court granted the motion and issued a stay "conditioned upon petitioner commencing state court exhaustion proceedings within sixty days of this order and returning to this court within sixty days of completing such exhaustion." App. 136. In compliance with that order, Rhines filed his second state habeas corpus petition on August 22, 2003.

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544 U.S. 269 *; 125 S. Ct. 1528 **; 161 L. Ed. 2d 440 ***; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 2930 ****; 73 U.S.L.W. 4263; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 209

CHARLES RUSSELL RHINES, Petitioner v. DOUGLAS WEBER, WARDEN

Subsequent History: On remand at, Remanded by  Rhines v. Weber, 409 F.3d 982, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 10348 (8th Cir. S.D., June 6, 2005)

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

 Rhines v. Weber, 346 F.3d 799, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 20355 (8th Cir. S.D., 2003)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

district court, exhaust, state court, unexhausted, federal court, mixed, abeyance, petitions, limitations period, habeas corpus, good cause, corpus, statute of limitations, tolled, federal district court, required to exhaust, habeas petition, returning, courts

Criminal Law & Procedure, Habeas Corpus, Procedure, General Overview, Procedural Defenses, Exhaustion of Remedies, Prerequisites, Mixed Petitions, Civil Procedure, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings, Pretrial Dismissals