Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Prison Mailbox Rule Definition:

(USA) A rule of procedure which deems that any court document mailed by a self-represented inmate is deemed filed on the date of delivery to prison authorities for mailing.

"Under the prison mailbox rule (...), a prisoner's federal habeas petition is deemed filed when he hands it over to prison authorities for mailing to the district court."

Thus wrote Justice Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals in Huizar v Carey (2001; relying on the 1988 United States Supreme Court decision in Hudson v Lack).

In Williams v McNeil, Justice Dubina of the United States Court of Appeals wrote:

"Under the prison mailbox rule, a pro se prisoner's court filing is deemed filed on the date it is delivered to prison authorities for mailing."

Note the very similar words used by Justice Rosalyn Chapman of the United States District Court (California) in the 2008 case of Solorio v. Hartley:

"Under the prison mailbox rule, a prisoner's habeas petition is deemed filed when he hands it over to prison authorities for mailing in the district court. The mailbox rule applies to prisoners filing habeas petitions in both federal and state courts... A pro se petitioner is entitled to have the mailing date treated as the date of filing."

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