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Cardin v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

January 9, 2020

Walter Cardin, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
United States of America, Respondent-Appellee.

          Argued: October 24, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Nos. 1:11-cr-00093-1; 1:16-cv-00201-Travis R. McDonough, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Derek A. Woodman, WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR, LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Perry H. Piper, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Derek A. Woodman, Daniel S. Volchok, WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR, LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Perry H. Piper, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellee.

          Walter Cardin, Butner, North Carolina, pro se.

          Before: KETHLEDGE, BUSH, and NALBANDIAN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judge.

         Walter Cardin moved in the district court to vacate his sentence under the federal habeas statute (28 U.S.C. § 2255). Cardin had been hospitalized two No. 18-5389 Cardin v. United States Page 2 days before the motion was due, so his sister signed it for him. Yet for that reason the district court denied the motion. Cardin also moved-after his release from the hospital-to add his own signature to the § 2255 filing. The district court denied that motion too. We reverse.

         Walter Cardin was convicted of fraud in federal court and began serving a 78-month prison sentence in June 2013. We affirmed his conviction and sentence, see United States v. Cardin, 577 Fed.Appx. 546 (6th Cir. 2014), and his criminal judgment became final on June 8, 2015. Cardin thereafter worked with his sister, Natalie Cardin, to prepare a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The deadline for filing that motion was June 8, 2016. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).

         On June 6, 2016, however, Cardin was unexpectedly hospitalized. The following day, Natalie Cardin filed the § 2255 motion in Cardin's name. The motion presented claims under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution, and was signed "Walter A. Cardin by Natalie J. Cardin." In a footnote, Natalie Cardin declared "under penalty of perjury" that she was "attorney in fact, P.P. for Walter A. Cardin" and that Cardin was incarcerated and "otherwise unavailable to sign this motion and ...


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