Pabon v. Superintendent SCI Mahanoy, No. 08-1536 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Petitioner, serving two consecutive life sentences for murders, exhausted state appeals and filed a federal habeas corpus petition, pro se. The district court dismissed the petition as untimely. Petitioner concedes that his petition was not timely under the one-year statute of limitations of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 28 U.S.C. 2254, but contends that equitable tolling should be granted because his inability to speak, read, or write English, coupled with the prison's lack of Spanish-language legal materials and repeated denials of translation assistance, are extraordinary circumstances. The Third Circuit reversed, holding that language inability coupled with lack of assistance can constitute extraordinary circumstances and that petitioner exercised reasonable diligence in pursuing his claims. His claim that the trial court committed a Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause violation under by admitting a non-testifying co-defendant's confession into evidence despite its potential to prejudice petitioner's defense is debatable and requires further development.