In a notable Padilla-related decision, the Eleventh Circuit today ruled that Padilla does not constitute a “watershed”rule of criminal procedure such that it does not cure an otherwise untimely section 2255 habeas petition. The case is Figuereo-Sanchez v. United States, No. 10-14235 (11th Cir. May 1, 2012). Judge Carnes wrote a unanimous decision for the three-judge panel (the other two judges being Beverly Martin and Adalberto Jordan).
It is important to note that in concluding that Padilla did not constitute a “watershed” rule of criminal procedure, the Eleventh Circuit assumed but expressly declined to decide that Padilla was a “new rule” for Teague retroactivity purposes. It was able to do so, in part, because both parties agreed that Padilla was a new rule under Teague. Accordingly, those who wish to argue before a court in the Eleventh Circuit that Padilla can be applied retroactively because it is NOT a new rule can still do so without worrying too much about contrary authority. Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit seemed to leave the door open for a Padilla old rule argument in footnote 4 of the opinion in which the court noted, “If the decision merely clarified an old rule, then the decision applies retroactively.” (citing Williams, 529 U.S. 362, 392 … (“[I]t can hardly be said that recognizing the right to effective assistance of counsel breaks new ground or imposes a new obligation on the states.”) (quotation marks omitted).
The end result is an unfortunate one for the petitioner, however, since he prevailed in the first half of his appeal — the Court of Appeals found the trial court erred when it failed to give the petitioner so-called “Castro” warnings before it recharacterized his pleadings as a 2255 petition — but lost on timeliness grounds.
The opinion can be downloaded here.