Sixth Circuit address "equitable tolling" principles
Curtis Robinson claimed he missed a deadline in his criminal appeal because his attorney was abusing cocaine and gave him false advice. The Sixth Circuit sent his case back to the trial court for an in-depth analysis of the circumstances underlying Robinson's failure to meet the statute of limitations. It noted that "mere negligence" by the attorney in failing to meet a legally-mandated deadline won't suffice to establish equitable tolling, but that "incompetence" might. The litigant must show that the circumstances were beyond his control, that he pursued his rights diligently, and that some "extraordinary circumstance" [likely involving "egregious behavior"] justifies the application of the equitable tolling rule.