A Texas inmate acting as his own attorney persuaded the Supreme Court on Monday to hear his case.
Carlos Jimenez was sentenced to 43 years in prison in 1995 after pleading guilty to burglary and violating the terms of his probation. Jimenez had a prior felony conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
In 2005, acting as his own lawyer, Jimenez petitioned a federal court, challenging his burglary conviction and asserting that he had not received proper legal representation when he went before the state courts in San Angelo, Texas.
The federal judge said Jimenez had waited too long to file his petition and refused to extend the deadline. Federal law gives state inmates one year after a conviction is final to petition a federal court for review of their cases.
At issue is Jimenez's argument that the one-year clock should have started all over again in 2005 because of the unusual circumstances of his case.
In 1996, a state appeals court dismissed Jimenez's appeal after a court-appointed lawyer said in court papers that in his professional opinion, Jimenez had no grounds for an appeal.
Nearly six years later, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to let Jimenez file an appeal based on his argument that his attorney in 1996 had not properly notified him of what the attorney was planning to do. The appeals court wrapped up its work on Jimenez's belated petitions in 2005, after affirming his conviction and sentence.