Perry v. Brown, No. 19-1683 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
As a result of a 2009 stroke, Perry, serving a long sentence for murder, suffers from aphasia, which impairs his ability to speak, write, and understand words. Perry pursued direct and collateral review in Indiana’s courts. On collateral attack, an appointed lawyer abandoned the case. Five months after dismissing the state proceeding in order to obtain assistance, he refiled it. The state judge dismissed the renewed application, ruling that the original dismissal was with prejudice. Perry then filed a federal petition under 28 U.S.C. 2254, which was summarily dismissed as untimely. Time during which a properly-filed state collateral attack is pending is excluded from the one year available to file in federal court, 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(2), but the federal judge determined that Perry’s second state proceeding was not properly filed because a second or successive collateral attack in Indiana requires judicial permission that Perry did not seek. The court declined to apply equitable tolling: Perry displayed all of the diligence needed for tolling but did not encounter any extraordinary circumstance that blocked timely filing because aphasia is not an “external” obstacle, The Seventh Circuit vacated. The record does not permit a determination of whether Perry’s difficulties stem from a brain injury that left him unable to understand or use language well enough to protect his interests or from his failure to do enough legal research to understand which time in state court would be excluded under section 2244(d)(2).