The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sympathized with a Florida death row inmate whose lawyer missed a deadline for his habeas appeal and failed to communicate with him for years despite numerous written pleas for help.

By a 7-2 vote in Holland v. Florida, the Court said that the lawyer’s misconduct may entitle convicted murderer Albert Holland to “equitable tolling,” or a delay in what otherwise would have been a one-year statute of limitation for filing the appeal under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

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