Thursday, May 5, 2011

Featured Cases - Hallum & Jones - Prison Mailbox Rule

Michael Allen Hallum v. Commonwealth, 2009-SC-000762-DG—rendered April 21, 2011.
Joe B. Jones v. Commonwealth, 2010-SC-000049-DG.
Opinion of the Court by Justice Scott- Reversing.
All concur

Consolidated appeal.  Both Appellant’s placed their pro se notices of appeal from the denial of a post-conviction motion and their motions to proceed in forma pauperis in the prison mail system before the due date but they were not marked tendered or filed in the Circuit Court Clerk’s office until after the due date.  The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeals as untimely filed.  The appellants filed for discretionary review in Supreme Court asking the Court to adopt a prison mailbox rule.  While the case was pending on appeal the Supreme Court adopted RCr 12.04(5): “If an inmate files a notice of appeal in a criminal case, the notice shall be considered filed if its envelope is officially marked as having been deposited in the institution’s internal mail system on or before the last day for filing with sufficient First Class postage prepaid.”  This rule was adopted because inmates cannot take the steps other individuals can take to ensure their notice of appeal is actually filed by the Circuit Court Clerk.  As they requested this relief, and this rule was adopted, prior to finality of the post-conviction action they were attempting to appeal, the Court applied the rule retroactively for them and reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss their appeals.

Contributed by Brandon Jewell