Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 11.62 (b. Coram Nobis Time Limits

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There are no absolute deadlines or statutes of limitations preventing filing of a petition for a writ of coram nobis attacking a federal conviction.  The time limitation is a general one subject to the equitable doctrine of laches.[323]  The court may apply laches to dismiss the petition if the petitioner inexcusably delays in asserting the claims and the government suffers prejudice as the result of the delay.[324]  The court may, by analogy, apply in coram nobis cases the doctrine applicable by rule in § 2255 cases:


A motion for relief made pursuant to these rules may be dismissed if it appears that the government has been prejudiced in its ability to respond to the motion by delay in its filing unless the movant shows that it is based on grounds of which he could not have had knowledge by the exercise of reasonable diligence before the circumstances prejudicial to the government occurred.[325]


Mere passage of time, without prejudice to the government, is not a bar.  The AEDPA one-year statute of limitations does not apply to coram nobis, and petitioner need only show a good reason for not attacking the conviction earlier.[326]

[323] See Hirabayashi v. United States, 828 F.2d 591, 605 (9th Cir. 1987).

[324] See Telink, Inc. v. United States, 24 F.3d 42, 47 (9th Cir. 1994).

[325] Rules Governing § 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts, Rulex9.

[326] United States v. Kwan, 407 F.3d 1005 (9th Cir. 2005).