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Matthews v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

September 5, 2017

RICHARD BROWN, Respondent.



         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Elsor Matthews for a writ of habeas corpus will be denied. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. The Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

         Matthews was convicted in Grant County in 2004 based on his guilty plea to intimidation, invasion of privacy, battery, and resisting law enforcement. In seeking federal habeas corpus relief, he presents three claims: (1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing establish a factual basis during his guilty plea; (2) the trial court improperly accepted his guilty plea; and (3) trial counsel failed to properly investigate Matthews's case to properly advise him to plead guilty.

         A petitioner must overcome several procedural barriers before a court will review the merits of a petition for a writ of federal habeas corpus. As Justice O'Connor noted in Daniels v. United States, “Procedural barriers, such as statutes of limitations and rules concerning procedural default and exhaustion of remedies, operate to limit access to review on the merits of a constitutional claim.” 532 U.S. 374, 381 (2001); see also United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 731 (1993). Accordingly, “when examining a habeas corpus petition, the first duty of a district court . . . is to examine the procedural status of the cause of action.” United States ex rel. Simmons v. Gramley, 915 F.2d 1128, 1132 (7th Cir. 1990).

         A. Statute of Limitations

         In an attempt to “curb delays, to prevent ‘retrials' on federal habeas, and to give effect to state convictions to the extent possible under law, ” Congress, as part of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), revised several of the statutes governing federal habeas relief. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 404 (2000). One such provision provides:

a state prisoner has one year to file a federal petition for habeas corpus relief, starting from “the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review.”

Wood v. Milyard, 132 S.Ct. 1826, 1831 (2012) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)); see also Gladney v. Pollard, 799 F.3d 889, 894 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Under ' 2244(d)(1) of the AEDPA, the statute of limitations for ' 2254 petitions is one year. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), the running of this one-year period is tolled while a “properly filed” application for post-conviction relief is pending in state court. See Gray v. Briley, 305 F.3d 777, 778-79 (7th Cir. 2002).

         Subject to exceptions not applicable here, Matthews had one (1) year from the date his conviction became final to file a timely petition for writ of habeas corpus. Matthews was sentenced on January 9, 2004. He did not file an appeal. His conviction became final when the time for pursuing a direct appeal expired. Gonzalez v. Thaler, 132 S.Ct. 641, 653-54 (2012). That date was February 8, 2004. His next activity in the state courts was the filing of an action for post-conviction relief on October 19, 2012. This was an interval of eight years, eight months, and ten days. Applying the prison mailbox rule, Matthews's habeas petition was filed on February 2, 2017. This was one week short of 13 years after his conviction became final and one week short of 12 years after the statute of limitations had expired.

         The limitations period is tolled during the pendency of a properly filed application for state post-conviction relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); Ray v. Clements, 700 F.3d 993, 1003 (7th Cir. 2012). This tolling, however, has no effect where, as in Matthews's case, the post-conviction relief action was filed long after the statute of limitations had expired. See Gladney, 799 F.3d at 893 (noting the petitioner's habeas petition was untimely when his first state post-conviction petition was filed after the one-year limitations period had expired); Teas v. Endicott, 494 F.3d 580 (7th Cir. 2007) (the fact that the state courts entertained a collateral attack on prisoner's conviction more than one year after the expiration of the one year time limit does not "re-start" the statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)); Fernandez v. Sternes, 227 F.3d 977, 978-79 (7th Cir. 2000) (explaining that it is illogical to toll a limitations period that has already passed). The filing of the Matthews's petition for post-conviction relief therefore has no effect on the computation of the statute of limitations and does not rescue Matthews's habeas petition from being woefully untimely.

         In addition to statutory tolling, the running of the statute of limitations is subject to equitable tolling, which is permitted if extraordinary circumstances beyond the petitioner's control prevented the timely filing of his habeas petition. See Holland v. Florida, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 2560 (2010); see also McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1931 (2013). A petitioner seeking equitable tolling “bears the burden of establishing two elements: (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way.” Holland, 130 S.Ct. at 2562 (quoting Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005)); see also Obriecht v. Foster, 727 F.3d 744, 748 (7th Cir. 2013). There were no extraordinary circumstances which prevented Matthews from filing a timely federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. See Gray v. Zatecky, No. 15-2482, 2017 WL 3274347, at *3 (7th Cir. Aug. 2, 2017).

         The ADEPA's statute of limitations does not apply to habeas petitions that make “a credible showing of actual innocence.” McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1931 (2013). To make such a showing, a petitioner must present “new reliable evidence--whether it be exculpatory scientific evidence, trustworthy eyewitness accounts, or critical physical evidence--that was not presented at trial.” Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 324 (1995). The petitioner must show that, if the new evidence had been presented at trial, “it is more likely than not that ...

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