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Martin v. Sexton

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

March 27, 2017

CHRISTOPHER HAYDEN MARTIN, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID SEXTON, Warden, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CURTIS L. COLLIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On November 21, 2014, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the legality of his confinement under a judgment of the Hamilton County Criminal Court [Doc. 1]. Respondent requested and received an extension of time to file a response [Docs. 6, 7]. On June 8, 2016, Respondent requested that the Court dismiss Petitioner's motion as untimely [Doc. 10]; that motion is now before the Court. Also before the Court are Petitioner's “motion in opposition to Respondent's motion [for extension]” [Doc. 8], and Respondent's requests to withdraw original counsel and appoint substitute counsel [Doc. 16].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 21, 1997, Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of child rape in Hamilton County Criminal Court Cases 200424 and 200425. He received a sentence of twenty-five years to be served at one hundred percent on each count. The court ordered the sentences to be served concurrently to each other. The court also ordered the sentences to be served concurrently to Georgia convictions involving similar offenses against the same victim, to which Petitioner had previously pled guilty on August 22, 1996, and received a sentence of twenty years' incarceration followed by twenty years' probation. Petitioner was transferred to Georgia to serve his sentences.

         On July 27, 2011, Petitioner learned that Tennessee authorities had placed a detainer on him seeking his return to Tennessee after the completion of the Georgia sentence. On September 21, 2011, Petitioner filed a “notice” in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia challenging both his Georgia and Tennessee convictions and the Tennessee detainer [E. D. Tenn. Case No. 1:11-cv-00316, Doc. 1]. The court transferred the aspects of the case challenging the Tennessee convictions and detainer to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee [E. D. Tenn. Case No. 1:11-cv-00316, Doc. 2]. Because Petitioner's pleading was unclear, the Court provided Petitioner with forms for filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus and a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and ordered him to file the appropriate forms [E. D. Tenn. Case No. 1:11-cv-00316, Doc. 4]. He submitted a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [E. D. Tenn. Case No. 1:11-cv-00316, Doc. 8], but never filed the petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim [E. D. Tenn. Case No. 1:11-cv-00316, Doc. 10].

         Meanwhile, on October 18, 2011, Petitioner filed a “motion to remove detainer” in the Hamilton County Criminal Court. On October 31, 2011, Petitioner filed a motion requesting the court void his sentence, allow Petitioner to file an untimely motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and withdraw the detainer. The trial court denied Petitioner's motion to remove the detainer on November 14, 2011, and denied Petitioner's motion to protest and contest transfer to Tennessee on December 6, 2011. Petitioner appealed the denial to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, which dismissed the appeal on February 26, 2013. State v. Martin, No. E2012- 00029-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 709593, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 26, 2013). On July 18, 2012, while Petitioner's appeal was pending, Georgia authorities paroled Petitioner to the custody of Tennessee.

         Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Hamilton County Criminal Court on July 25, 2013. The post-conviction court determined that the petition was barred by the statute of limitations and summarily dismissed it on August 28, 2013. Petitioner appealed, and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the dismissal on April 9, 2014. Martin v. State, No. E2013-02343-CCA-R3-PC, 2014 WL 1396678, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 9, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 19, 2014). The Tennessee Supreme Court declined review. Id.

         Petitioner filed the instant federal petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on November 21, 2014 [Doc. 1]. He bases his challenge on the fact that Tennessee authorities have incarcerated him after parole on his Georgia sentence [Id.]. This Court ordered Petitioner to show cause why the petition should not be dismissed as untimely [Doc. 2]; he complied [Doc. 3]. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the application because it is time-barred under the 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)'s statute of limitations [Doc. 10]. Petitioner responded in opposition [Doc. 17].

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS

         The AEDPA contains a one-year statute of limitations governing the filing of an application for a federal writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). The limitations period starts to run when one of four circumstances occurs: (1) the conclusion of direct review; (2) upon the removal of an impediment which prevented a petitioner from filling a habeas corpus petition; (3) when a petition alleges a constitutional right, newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactive on collateral review; or (4) when a claim depends upon factual predicates which could not have been discovered earlier through the exercise of due diligence. Id.; see also Isham v. Randle, 226 F.3d 691, 693 (6th Cir. 2000) (same). Once triggered, the limitations period is statutorily tolled during pendency of “a properly filed application for state-based post-conviction relief or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim.” Id.

         As an initial matter, the Court notes that neither subsection (d)(2) nor subsection (d)(3) apply under the facts of the instant case. Thus, timeliness of his petition depends on whether it was submitted within the one year windows for subsection (d)(1) or subsection (d)(4). For purposes of subsection (d)(1), the challenged conviction became final on June 20, 1997, at expiration of the time to file a direct appeal with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Absent statutory or equitable tolling, the one-year statutory period would have expired on June 20, 1998.[1]

         To the extent Petitioner attempts to rely on subsection (d)(4)-which applies where a claim depends upon a factual predicate which could not have been discovered earlier thought the exercise of due diligence, the only possible triggering event would have been when Petitioner discovered that Tennessee planned to resume custody after Georgia released him on parole. The latest possible date on which Petitioner could have discovered that information would have been July 27, 2011-the date that he learned about Tennessee's active detainer. Absent statutory or equitable tolling, the one-year statutory period would have expired on July 27, 2012.

         A. Statutory Tolling

         Petitioner cannot rely on the “notice” filed with the United States District Court for the Norther District of Georgia and subsequently transferred to this Court as a source of statutory tolling because when given the opportunity to amend the ambiguous filing by submitting a complaint under § 1983 or petition under § 2254, he chose to submit only the former [E. D. Tenn. Case No. 1:11-cv-00316, Doc. 8]. Even if he had submitted a federal request for habeas corpus, that request would have ...


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