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Case Basics
Docket No. 
A.T. Wall, Director of Rhode Island Department of Corrections
Khalil Kholi
Decided By 
(for the petitioner)
(for the respondent (appointed by the Court))
Facts of the Case 

In December 1993, a Rhode Island jury convicted Khalil Kholi on 10 counts of first-degree sexual assault. The charges stemmed from the alleged molestation of his two step-daughters. A judge on the state superior court sentenced Kholi to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, and the state supreme court affirmed the conviction in February 1996. Kholi did not file a federal writ of habeas corpus at that time. Instead, he filed a motion seeking sentence reduction as a form of post-conviction relief, which was denied. Kholi exhausted his procedural options regarding sentence reduction in 2007, at which time he began his appeal for federal writ of habeas corpus, which was well beyond the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s standard one-year limitation on filing. In September 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's judgment that a petition for leniency is different from an appeal to correct legal errors and therefore does not result in a tolling of the statute of limitations under AEDPA. A circuit split exists on the issue. The First Circuit's decision was in line with a Tenth Circuit ruling on the same issue, but the Third, Fourth and Eleventh Circuits have previously ruled that a petition for leniency does not toll the statute of limitations under AEDPA.


Inmates have one year to file a habeas challenge to their sentence in federal court after conviction. The running of that time is delayed while the conviction is under review in state court. Is the time also tolled while a state court considers an inmate’s request for a sentence reduction?

Decision: 9 votes for Kholi, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: habeas corpus

Yes. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. "Because the parties agree that a motion to reduce sentence under Rhode Island law is not part of the direct review process, we hold that respondent's motion tolled the AEDPA limitation period and that his federal habeas petition was therefore timely," Alito wrote for the court.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment but disagreeing with "Footnote 3 of the Court's opinion, which declines to decide whether a Rule 35 motion seeks direct review."

Cite this Page
WALL v. KHOLI. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_868>.
WALL v. KHOLI, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_868 (last visited August 25, 2015).
"WALL v. KHOLI," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_868.