Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Eaton v. Lee

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

March 13, 2017

CARLOS D. EATON, Petitioner,
RANDY LEE, Respondent.



         Carlos D. Eaton, a Tennessee state prisoner, has filed an amended petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking habeas corpus relief (“petition”). (ECF No. 11.) Before the Court is the motion to dismiss of Respondent, Randy Lee. (ECF No. 18.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         Eaton's State Proceedings and § 2254 Petition

         On July 10, 1995, Eaton was convicted of first degree murder following a guilty plea. He was sentenced to an effective term of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole in the Tennessee Department of Correction. (ECF No. 11 at 1.) The defendant did not appeal his guilty plea or seek post-conviction review by any state court. (Id. at 24.) On October 31, 2013, Eaton filed a petition for writ of coram nobis in which he claimed the existence of newly discovered exculpatory evidence. (ECF No. 19-1 at 75-78.) On December 17, 2014, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals (“TCCA”) affirmed the judgment of the coram nobis court, concluding, in part, that the evidence was not “newly discovered, ” as required by the coram nobis statute, and that the evidence did not “demonstrate that [Eaton] is actually innocent of” first degree murder. Eaton v. State, No. W2014-00791-CCA-R3-ECN, 2014 WL 7179490, at *2-3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 17, 2014). Petitioner did not seek permission to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. (ECF No. 11 at 3.) On January 9, 2015, Eaton filed a state writ of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court for Johnson County, Tennessee. (ECF No. 19-5 at 14-16.) On November 16, 2015, Eaton's state habeas corpus petition was denied as non-cognizable. (ECF No. 19-5 at 19.)

         On June 10, 2015, Eaton filed his pro se § 2254 petition, which he later re-filed on the Court's official form. (ECF No. 11.) Relying on a photograph he alleges he received in the mail in 2015, Petitioner claims that he is innocent of the crime of first degree murder and that his actual innocence also allows him to avoid the statute of limitations for the filing of a § 2254 petition. (Id. at 2, 4, 7.)


         Respondent has moved to dismiss the petition on the ground that Eaton's claim is untimely and equitable tolling is not warranted. (ECF No. 18.) The Court agrees. The petition's allegations, which include references to photographic and other evidence, along with public documents in Eaton's state court criminal and coram nobis cases, show that Eaton filed his federal habeas claims well beyond the limitations period and that he is not entitled to actual-innocence equitable tolling.

         A defendant may raise a statute of limitations affirmative defense “‘on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) when it is apparent from the face of the complaint that the time limit for bringing the claim has passed.'” Hoover v. Langston Equip. Assocs., Inc., 958 F.2d 742, 744 (6th Cir. 1992) (quoting 5 Wright and Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1308, p. 695 (West 1990). In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the court may consider “exhibits attached to the complaint, public records, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to defendant's motion to dismiss, so long as they are referred to in the complaint and are central to the claims contained therein, without converting the motion to one for summary judgment.” Gavitt v. Born, 835 F.3d 623, 640 (6th Cir. 2016). Where such information shows “that the limitations period has been exceeded, ” and does not “sketch a factual predicate that would warrant the application of either a different statute of limitations period” or the application of a tolling principal, “dismissal is appropriate.” Santana-Castro v. Toledo-Dávila, 579 F.3d 109, 114 (1st Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). See also Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 613 (6th Cir. 2009) (“[T]here is no reason not to grant a motion to dismiss where the undisputed facts conclusively establish an affirmative defense as a matter of law.”).

         A § 2254 petition is subject to a one-year statute of limitations. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The limitations period begins to run from the latest of four possible dates:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

Id. The one-year limitations period is tolled during the time “a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review . . . is pending . . . ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.