Arnold v. Richardson, No. 20-2701 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
In 2008, Arnold was convicted of repeated sexual assault of his son, M.A., the principal witness at trial. As a persistent repeater, Arnold was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2011, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and the denial of Arnold’s first post‐conviction petition. M.A. then signed a notarized affidavit, recanting his trial testimony. Nearly two years later, Arnold filed a pro se petition seeking a new trial. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the petition, reasoning that the affidavit was not newly-discovered evidence but was cumulative of evidence presented at trial. The Wisconsin Supreme Court again denied review.
In December 2015, Arnold filed a federal habeas petition, claiming actual innocence. The district court dismissed the petition as untimely. Under 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1)(A), a petitioner must seek habeas relief within one year of the date that his conviction became final. On remand, the district court heard testimony from M.A., a child psychologist, and M.A.’s former counselor. The Seventh Circuit then affirmed the dismissal of the petition. Arnold failed to meet the rigorous standard for overcoming the time bar. The court properly applied that probabilistic standard on remand; it was not the court’s charge on remand to independently determine whether it found M.A.’s recantation credible or reliable. The court employed the proper standard in viewing the new evidence through the eyes of a reasonable juror.