Rivas v. Fischer, No. 10-1300 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Rivas, serving an indeterminate life sentence in New York for the second-degree murder of his former girlfriend, sought habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. 2254. The district court dismissed the petition as barred by the statute's one-year limitations period. On remand, the district court again dismissed, after hearing evidence of actual innocence. The Second Circuit reversed, finding that Rivas raised a credible and compelling claim of actual innocence, based on new information not presented to the jury that dramatically undermines the central forensic evidence linking him to the crime of which he was convicted. There was essentially unchallenged testimony from a respected forensic pathologist, that the victim was almost certainly killed at a time when he had an uncontested alibi, and not earlier. That evidence warrants an equitable exception to AEDPA’s limitation period, allowing the petitioner to have his otherwise time-barred claims heard by a federal court.