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Trejo v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 17, 2016

Fernando Arnulfo Trejo, Petitioner,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Respondents.

ORDER

Eric L Markovich, United States Magistrate Judge

Pending before the Court is Petitioner’s Motion for Permission to Amend and/or Supplement Habeas Petition. (Doc. 36). The motion has been fully briefed, and Respondents oppose amendment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner filed his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on March 11, 2013. (Doc. 1). Respondents filed an Answer on August 26, 2013 (Doc. 17) and an Amended Answer on September 25, 2013 (Doc. 26). Petitioner filed his Reply to the Response on October 24, 2013. (Doc. 27). Accordingly, the habeas petition has been fully briefed since October 24, 2013.

Petitioner filed his Motion for Permission to Amend and/or Supplement on May 13, 2015 (Doc. 36), over two years since filing his original habeas petition. In his Motion to Amend/Correct, Petitioner requests permission to amend and/or supplement his habeas petition with additional grounds for relief that he contends relate back to the original petition because the amendments would be ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Petitioner does not elaborate on what the new claims would be.

LRCiv 15.1 of the Rules of Practice of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona requires that the party seeking leave to amend a pleading “must attach a copy of the proposed amended pleading as an exhibit to the motion, which shall indicate in what respect it differs from the pleading which it amends, by bracketing or striking through the text to be deleted and underlining the text to be added.” LRCiv 15.1(a). Additionally, the moving party must also “lodge with the Clerk of Court an original of the proposed amended pleading.” LRCiv 15.1(b). Petitioner did not provide a copy of the proposed amended pleading nor did he lodge a copy of the same as required. Rather, Petitioner asks the Court to suspend the Local Rules and waive these requirements.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard for Amendment

A petition for habeas corpus may be amended pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 2242; see also Rule 12, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (providing that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure may be applied to habeas petitions to the extent they are not inconsistent with the habeas rules). The Court looks to Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to address a party’s motion to amend a pleading in a habeas corpus action. See James v. Pliler, 269 F.3d 1124, 1126 (9th Cir. 2001).

Under Rule 15(a), leave to amend shall be freely given “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Courts must review motions to amend in light of the strong policy permitting amendment. Gabrielson v. Montgomery Ward & Co., 785 F.2d 762, 765 (9th Cir. 1986). Factors that may justify denying a motion to amend are undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, futility of amendment, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and whether the petitioner has previously amended. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Bonin v. Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995).

Leave to amend may be denied based upon futility alone. See Bonin, 59 F.3d at 845. To assess futility, a court necessarily evaluates whether relief may be available on the merits of the proposed claim. See Caswell v. Calderon, 363 F.3d 832, 837-39 (9th Cir. 2004) (conducting a two-part futility analysis reviewing both exhaustion of state court remedies and the merits of the proposed claim). If the proposed claims are untimely, unexhausted, or otherwise fail as a matter of law, amendment should be denied as futile.

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) imposes a one-year statute of limitations for the filing of federal habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d); see Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 230 (2004). Respondents contend that any amended claims would be untimely unless they related back to claims in the original petition; however, because Petitioner does not specify what his additional claims would be, it is impossible to tell whether the new claims would relate back or not. Respondents further note that new claims may only relate back to properly exhausted claims, and contend that some of the claims in the original petition are not properly exhausted. Petitioner argues that his new claims would relate back to his original habeas petition, and alternatively argues that equitable tolling should apply because either extraordinary circumstances prevented him from pursuing his claims sooner, or because he is actually innocent.

B. Equitable tolling

The one-year limitations period established by § 2244(d)(1) may be equitably tolled in appropriate circumstances. Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631 (2010). However, application of the equitable tolling doctrine is the exception rather than the norm. See, e.g., Waldron-Ramsey v. Pacholke, 556 F.3d 1008, 1011 (9th Cir. 2009) (characterizing the Ninth Circuit’s “application of the doctrine” as “sparing” and a “rarity”); Miles v. Prunty, 187 F.3d 1104, 1107 (9th Cir. 1999) (“equitable tolling is unavailable in most cases”). “Indeed, the threshold necessary to trigger equitable ...


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