WOOD v. MILYARD

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
10-9995
Petitioner 
Patrick Wood
Respondent 
Kevin Milyard, Warden, Sterling Correctional Facility, et al.
Decided By 
Advocates
(for the petitioner)
(Solicitor General of Colorado, for the respondents)
(Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the respondents)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Patrick Wood filed pro se (on his own behalf) in federal court for a writ of habeas corpus claiming that his convictions for felony murder and second degree murder violated the Sixth Amendment privilege against double jeopardy and challenging the validity of his jury trial waiver. The District Court denied relief. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit appointed Wood with an attorney and directed the parties to address the timeliness of Wood's petition. The appeals court found that Wood's habeas petition was untimely and affirmed the decision of the District Court.

Question 

1) Does an appellate court have the authority to raise the statute of limitations defense without a request by any party?

2) Does the state’s declaration before the district court that it "will not challenge, but [is] not conceding, the timeliness of Wood's habeas petition," amount to a deliberate waiver of any statute of limitations defense the state may have had?

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

Yes and yes. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for a 9-0 majority, reversed the lower decision and remanded. The Supreme Court held that under Day v. McDonough appellate courts have the authority, though not the obligation, to raise a forfeited statute of limitations defense on its own. The prosecution in this case, however, expressly waived the statute of limitations through its repeated refusal to raise the defense. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit abused its discretion when it overrode the prosecution’s express waiver of the statute of limitations.

Justice Clarence Thomas concurred in the judgment, arguing that Day v. McDonough was wrongly decided so district and appellate courts should not have the authority to raise the statute of limitations on their own. Justice Antonin Scalia joined in the concurrence.

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WOOD v. MILYARD. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 18 August 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2011/2011_10_9995>.
WOOD v. MILYARD, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2011/2011_10_9995 (last visited August 18, 2014).
"WOOD v. MILYARD," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 18, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2011/2011_10_9995.