Mark Christeson filed a motion to re-open his habeas proceedings under Rule 60(b) arguing that his attorney’s failure to timely submit his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition (used by state prisoners but similar to a 2255) constituted attorney abandonment. The abandonment issue was key to resolving whether “extraordinary circumstances” existed to warrant granting Rule 60 relief and for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.
The Eighth Circuit remanded for a limited evidentiary hearing to determine the abandonment issue. The lower court had previously relied on prior counsel’s conduct AFTER the deadline to show there was no abandonment. This was in contrast to evidence in the record that suggested the lawyers had abandoned Christeson because, for example, they did not meet with Christeson until “six weeks after the petition due date.” Christeson v. Griffith, No. 16-2730 (8th Cir. 2017).