seriously Congress's desire to accelerate the federal habeas
process, and will only authorize extensions when this high hurdle
is surmounted." Id. at 1289.
2. The Third Circuit's opinion in Miller
After the Ninth Circuit decided Calderon, the Third Circuit
was faced with exactly the same issue in Miller v. New Jersey
State Department of Corrections. In Miller, announcing that it
agreed with the Ninth Circuit's decision in Calderon, the Third
Circuit held that § 2254's limitations period operates as a
statute of limitations and is thus subject to equitable tolling.
Miller, 145 F.3d at 618. The Third Circuit found that the
language, legislative history, and statutory purpose of AEDPA all
supported the court's holding.
First, as in Calderon, the Miller court found that "the
language of AEDPA clearly indicates that the one year period is a
statute of limitations and not a jurisdictional bar." Id. The
court observed that the language of the statute (1) "refers to
the one year as a `period of limitation' and a `limitation
period,' and does not use the term `jurisdiction'" and (2) speaks
only in terms of a "one year filing period" and does not purport
to limit the jurisdiction of the courts in any way. Id. The
Third Circuit also found it important that § 2241, the provision
in which Congress explicitly grants jurisdiction to the district
courts, does not reference a "timely-filing requirement." Id.
In addition to the language of the statute, the Miller court
found that the legislative history of AEDPA supported the court's
holding. As in Calderon, the court found it important that
"[t]he Congressional conference report does not refer to
jurisdiction . . . and statements by various members of Congress
refer to the period as a statute of limitations." Id.
Finally, the Miller court found that its holding was
consistent with the statutory purpose of AEDPA, which was "to
curb the abuse of the writ of habeas corpus." Id. The court
found that allowing equitable tolling serves AEDPA's statutory
purpose by "provid[ing] a one year limitation period that will
considerably speed up the habeas process while retaining judicial
discretion to equitably toll in extraordinary circumstances."
Having held that § 2254's limitations period is a statute of
limitations, the Third Circuit remanded the case to the district
court for a consideration of the equitable tolling issue. Id.
The Third Circuit then provided the following guidance to the
district court for deciding the equitable tolling issue:
Equitable tolling is proper only when the "principles
of equity would make [the] rigid application [of a
limitation period] unfair." Generally, this will
occur when the petitioner has "in some extraordinary
way . . . been prevented from asserting his or her
rights." The petitioner must show that he or she
"exercised reasonable diligence in investigating and
bringing [the] claims." Mere excusable neglect is not
Id. at 618-19 (internal citations omitted).