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Name: Ford v. Gonzalez
Case #: 11-15430
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/02/2012

The delayed commencement of a state prisoner action in federal court beyond the AEDPA deadline was untimely because the factual predicate for the claims could have been discovered at the time of trial and the prisoner did not diligently pursue his rights. A federal district court dismissed Ford’s habeas petition as untimely because the factual basis for the claim could have been discovered had he exercised diligence at trial and there was no extraordinary circumstance that prevented the timely filing of the claims. Affirmed. One of the events that triggers the running of the one-year AEDPA statute of limitations is the date on which the factual predicate of the presented claims could have been discovered with due diligence. Here, the case files, which provided the factual basis to prove the prosecution provided lenient treatment to a witness in her own criminal case in return for testimony against Ford, were public records that could have been discovered at the time of trial through the exercise of due diligence. Ford had reason to suspect that the witness may have received some benefits for assisting law enforcement based on testimony at trial and other circumstances. Ford was not entitled to equitable tolling based on an alleged Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 violation. Equitable tolling of the limitations period applies only if the petitioner shows that (1) he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely filing. Ford was not diligent because testimony at trial and other circumstances gave Ford reason to suspect that the witness may have received benefits. The prosecutor’s obligation under Brady does not provide relief in the circumstances. (However, see the dissent argument that the AEDPA statute of limitations should not start until the disclosure of Brady material.)