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Orthel v. Yates

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 28, 2015

Klee Christopher Orthel, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
James A. Yates, Warden, Respondent-Appellee.

Argued and Submitted June 17, 2015

Appeal from the United States District Court No. 3:10-cv-03612-SI for the Northern District of California Susan Y. Illston, Senior District Judge, Presiding

Noel J. Francisco, James M. Burnham (argued), Sarah A. Hunger and Matthew R. McGuire, Jones Day, Washington, D.C., Pro Bono Counsel for Petitioner-Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General of California, Gerald A. Engler, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Peggy S. Ruffra (argued), Supervising Deputy Attorney General, San Francisco, California, for Respondent-Appellee.

Before: Michael Daly Hawkins, N. Randy Smith, and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges.

SUMMARY[*]

Habeas Corpus

The panel affirmed the district court's order dismissing California state prisoner Klee Christopher Orthel's habeas corpus petition as untimely.

The panel held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that Orthel possessed sufficient mental competence to understand the need to timely file a petition and to personally prepare and effectuate a filing, and that the district court therefore did not err in determining that Orthel did not establish an exceptional circumstance that would warrant equitable tolling of AEDPA's one-year statute of limitations. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding not to hold an evidentiary hearing. The panel rejected Orthel's contention that a petitioner is entitled as a matter of law to an evidentiary hearing upon making a prima facie showing that would, if true, entitle him to equitable tolling.

OPINION

HAWKINS, CIRCUIT JUDGE:

Petitioner-Appellant Klee Christopher Orthel ("Orthel") appeals an order of the district court granting Respondent-Appellee Warden James A. Yates's ("the State") motion to dismiss as untimely Orthel's habeas petition. Orthel argues he is entitled to equitable tolling of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's ("AEDPA") one-year statute of limitations due to mental incompetence. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1995, Orthel was convicted of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in violation of California Penal Code § 187. The trial court sentenced Orthel to twenty-nine years to life in prison, and Orthel appealed. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction in 1998, and the California Supreme Court denied review later that year.

Orthel sought no further relief until he filed a federal habeas petition on August 17, 2010, in which he raised a single claim of instructional error. The State moved to dismiss the petition as untimely, citing the one-year AEDPA bar, 28 U.S.C. ยง 2244(d). Orthel opposed, arguing he was entitled to equitable tolling of the one-year bar due to mental incompetence. In support of his opposition, Orthel submitted one nine-page document showing that Orthel had previously been involuntarily medicated. After reviewing that evidence, the district court denied the State's motion to dismiss. However, the district court also directed that Orthel provide a complete copy of his mental health ...


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