Practitioners who work on § 2254 claims are often frustrated by a paucity of bright-line rules to provide guidance, especially bright-line rules that are favorable to habeas petitioners. The Perkins opinion, out today, offers a rare bit of clarity, thanks to some excellent pro bono work by the good folks at Jones Day.
The issue: AEDPA’s statute of limitations provides a statutory exception for credible claims of actual innocence, but equitable tolling of the statute usually requires a showing of reasonable diligence. Does a habeas petitioner with a credible claim of actual innocence also have to show reasonable diligence in pursuing his or her claim?
The answer: no.
I would write more here, but for once no additional analysis, caveats, or disclaimers are necessary.*
*Ha ha, just kidding. This will raise all kinds of issues related to what exactly is a credible claim of actual innocence, and Mr. Perkins has a long way to go before he demonstrates that he has one. But for now, let’s all just enjoy this brief moment in the sun, ok?