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Rogers v. Secretary, Department of Corrections

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

May 2, 2017

MICHAEL ROGERS, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 4:14-cv-00062-MW-GRJ

          Before WILSON and JULIE CARNES, Circuit Judges, and HALL, [*] District Judge.

          WILSON, Circuit Judge

         Michael Rogers argues, and the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections disputes, that Rogers's motion under Rule 3.800(c), Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, tolled the time in which he could petition for federal habeas relief. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), this time is tolled during the pendency of a state prisoner's application for "collateral review." The Supreme Court defines "collateral review" as any "judicial reexamination of a judgment or claim in a proceeding outside of the direct review process." Wall v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 553, 131 S.Ct. 1278, 1285 (2011). Because a Rule 3.800(c) motion is an application for such judicial reexamination, we hold that Rogers's motion tolled the time in which he could petition for federal habeas relief. We reverse the district court's dismissal of Rogers's petition and remand for further proceedings.

         I.

         Rogers was convicted of sexual battery on a minor under the age of 12 and sentenced, among other things, to life imprisonment. The conviction and sentence became final on May 12, 2010. On June 23, 2010, Rogers moved to reduce his sentence under Rule 3.800(c), which grants a Florida trial court the discretion to reduce a sentence after an appellate court's affirmation of the legality of the sentence. The denial of the motion became final on August 9, 2011. On October 28, 2011, Rogers moved under Rule 3.850, challenging the trial court's jurisdiction over his criminal case. The denial of the motion became final on August 5, 2013.

         On January 31, 2014, Rogers petitioned for federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections moved to dismiss the petition for, among other reasons, untimeliness. The Secretary argued that the one-year limitations period in which Rogers could petition for federal habeas relief expired on July 27, 2011, and that Rogers's Rule 3.800(c) motion failed to toll this limitations period. Neither party disputed the tolling effect of a Rule 3.850 motion. Thus, the parties agreed that, if the Rule 3.800(c) motion tolled the limitations period, the federal habeas petition was timely and that, if the motion did not, the petition was untimely.

         Recommending that the district court grant the Secretary's motion to dismiss, a magistrate judge stated, among other reasons, that the Rule 3.800(c) motion failed to toll the limitations period. The district court adopted the recommendation, granted the motion, and dismissed the federal habeas petition. Rogers appealed, and this court granted a certificate of appealability on one issue: "Whether Rogers's habeas petition was untimely under [§ 2244(d)(2)]."

         II.

         Under § 2244(d)(2), a state prisoner can toll the one-year limitations period for a federal habeas petition by applying for "collateral review" in state court:

The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection.

         The parties dispute whether a Florida prisoner's Rule 3.800(c) motion to reduce a sentence is an application for collateral review. Rule 3.800 states:

(a) Correction. . . . A court may at any time correct an illegal sentence ...

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