Wood v. Milyard: Another Habeas Win

Yes, I’m late to the party. Wood v. Milyard was handed down on April 24 but finals season is upon me and I have basically no free time. Probably only a true habeas fan like me will care about this case because it deals with the ability to waive timeliness.  The holding can be reduced to this sentence: When the state intentionally and explicitly decides to waive any argument that the habeas petition must fail due to its untimeliness, a court of appeal may not raise that untimeliness sua sponte.

Boring? Sure. Bland? Sure. Important? Immensely. Academics rarely focus on the filing deadline aspects of habeas / post-conviction but my experience has been that it presents the single biggest hurdle to relief for petitioners. Whatever frustration we might have with § 2254(d)(1), we need to acknowledge that § 2244 is every bit as troublesome, practically speaking. The Court’s unanimous ruling in Wood is doubtless narrow but a pleasant surprise nevertheless.

-Zachary Cloud

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