Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Clerk Erred in Refusing to File Unsigned 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion

Clerk Erred in Refusing to File Unsigned 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that it was error for a district court clerk to refuse to file an unsigned 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion.

On May 20, 2004, Georges Michel’s co-defendant, James Armstrong, mailed a § 2255 motion prepared on Michel’s behalf to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. The signature line of the motion contained the typed name “Georges Michel” but was otherwise unsigned. The clerk returned the motion to Michel with a letter explaining that an unsigned § 2255 motion would not be accepted.

Michel sent several unsigned copies of the motion back to the clerk, each of which were returned with instructions that the motion must be signed. On June 17, 2004, the clerk finally received and docketed a signed copy of Michel’s § 2255 motion. The district court dismissed the motion as untimely because it was not properly filed by May 26, 2004 – the day the statute of limitations expired.

On appeal, Michel argued that the district court had erred in treating his § 2255 motion as untimely. According to Michel the clerk should have filed his unsigned § 2255 motion in accordance with the recently amended Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings. The Eleventh Circuit agreed, holding that “[a]mended Rule 3(b) requires the clerk to file and docket the motion upon receipt, even if it does not conform to the technical requirement in Rule 2 that the motion be signed.”

Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the dismissal of Michel’s motion as untimely and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. See: Michel v. United States, 519 F.3d 1267 (11th Cir. 2008).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Michel v. United States