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Name: Curiel v. Miller
Case #: 11-56949
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/19/2015

Petitioner not entitled to statutory or equitable tolling of the one-year statute of limitations for seeking federal habeas relief. Curiel was convicted of first degree murder and his conviction became final on September 9, 2008. He sought state habeas relief in superior court on May 12, 2009, but his petition was denied as untimely. Subsequent petitions filed in the Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court were summarily denied. On March 8, 2010, Curiel filed a federal habeas petition in district court, which was dismissed as untimely under AEDPA. Curiel appealed. Held: Affirmed. AEDPA requires that a federal habeas petition be filed within one year from the date that an inmate’s conviction became final on direct review. Here, Curiel’s conviction became final on September 9, 2008, but he did not file a federal habeas petition until March 8, 2010, well over a year later. Curiel argued that he should be entitled to statutory tolling (28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2)) during the period he was pursuing state habeas relief. However, such tolling is only available during the time in which a “properly” filed state habeas petition is pending. The Ninth Circuit concluded that his petition was not properly filed in state court because it was untimely under state law. The California Supreme Court’s citations to In re Swain (1949) 34 Cal.2d 300, 304 and People v. Duvall (1995) 9 Cal.4th 464, 474 in its two-line denial of Curiel’s petition was not strong evidence to overcome the presumption that the California Supreme Court did not silently disregard the superior court’s timeliness decision. (See Ylst v. Nunnemaker (1991) 501 U.S. 797, 803.) Furthermore, despite the fact that Curiel had trouble obtaining his trial files from counsel, equitable tolling was unwarranted because he received his trial files with approximately six months remaining until his federal deadline.