United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS, DENYING CERTIFICATE
OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA
THOMAS ANDERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Aldridge, a Tennessee state prisoner, has filed a petition
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking habeas corpus relief
(“petition”). (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is
the motion of Respondent, Shawn Phillips, to dismiss the
petition as untimely. (ECF No. 14.) For the reasons that
follow, the motion is GRANTED.
Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted Aldridge of first
degree murder, second degree murder, and especially
aggravated robbery. State v. Aldridge, No.
W2007-01722-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 1579239, at *1 (Tenn. Crim.
App. June 5, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct.
19, 2009). The trial court merged the murder convictions and
imposed concurrent sentences of life imprisonment and forty
years. Id. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
(“TCCA”) affirmed Petitioner's convictions
and sentences on June 5, 2009. Id. at *8. On October
19, 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied discretionary
Petitioner signed his pro se petition for state
post-conviction relief on April 24, 2010, (ECF No. 10-14 at
46), and the petition was filed on May 10, 2010.
(Id. at 12.) The post-conviction court denied the
petition on October 4, 2012, (ECF No. 10-15 at 13), and the
TCCA affirmed. Aldridge v. State, No.
W2012-02409-CCA-R3-PC, 2013 WL 12181749, at *1 (Tenn. Crim.
App. Sept. 19, 2013). On January 14, 2014, the Tennessee
Supreme Court denied discretionary review. (ECF No. 10-22.)
§ 2254 Petition and Limitations Period
submitted his pro se § 2254 petition to prison
officials for mailing on October 30, 2014. (ECF No. 1.) His
sole claim is that the trial court's “exclusion of
certain evidence denied him the right to present a defense,
” in violation of his right to due process.
(Id. at 5.)
§ 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.
case, § 2244(d)(1)(A) applies, which means that Aldridge
had one-year from the date on which his judgment of
conviction became final to file his habeas petition. Taking
into account statutory tolling under 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(2), the last day Aldridge could timely file his
§ 2254 petition was October 14, 2014.
date is arrived at as follows. First, Petitioner's
judgment of conviction became final on January 19, 2010.
Aldridge appealed his conviction to the Tennessee Supreme
Court, but did not appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
His judgment of conviction thus became final when the time
for appealing to the United States Supreme Court expired,
which was ninety days after the Tennessee Supreme Court
denied permission to appeal. See Bronaugh v. Ohio,
235 F.3d 280, 283 (6th Cir. 2000). Permission to appeal was
denied on October 19, 2009, and ninety days from that date
was Sunday January 17, 2010. The next day, January 18, 2010,
was Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, a federal holiday. Under
Supreme Court Rule 30, if a deadline for filing with the
Supreme Court falls on “Saturday, Sunday, [or] federal
legal holiday, ” the “period shall extend until
the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, [or]
federal legal holiday, ” which in this case was Tuesday
January 19, 2010.
the limitations period for Aldridge's federal habeas
claim began to run on January 20, 2010. The one-year statute
of limitations for filing a federal habeas petition begins to
run on the day after the conviction of judgment becomes
final. Bronaugh, 235 F.3d at 285-86.
the limitations period ran for ninety-four days, and then was
tolled from April 24, 2010, to January 14, 2014. The one-year
limitations period is tolled during the time “a
properly filed application for State post-conviction or other
collateral review . . . is pending . . . .” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(2). It is not tolled, however, during the
ninety-day period in which a defendant could seek a writ of
certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on appeal from
the denial of post-conviction relief. Lawrence v.
Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 332-36 (2007). Giving Aldridge
the benefit of the prison mailbox rule, the state
post-conviction petition was filed on April 24, 2010, the day
he signed it. See Goins v. Saunders, 206 F.
App'x. 497, 498 n. 1 (6th Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (courts
are to treat pro se prisoner complaints “as
filed on the date [the prisoner] signed it.”). The
Tennessee Supreme Court denied permission to appeal on
January 14, 2014.
the last day of the limitations period was October 14, 2014.
When the limitations “clock” resumed ticking the
day after Aldridge's state post-convictions proceedings
concluded on January 14, 2014, two-hundred and seventy-one
days remained in the limitations period. Two-hundred and
seventy-one days later was Sunday October 12, 2014, and the
next day, Monday October 13, 2014, was Columbus Day, a
federal holiday. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a),
if a deadline for filing in the district court falls on a
“Saturday, Sunday, or Legal holiday, the period
continues to run until the end of the next day that is not a
Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, ” which in this
case was Tuesday October 14, 2014.
Petitioner the benefit of the prison mailbox rule, the
petition was filed on October 30, 2014, the day he signed it.
Aldridge therefore filed his petition sixteen days after the
limitations period expired on October 14, 2014.
has moved to dismiss the petition on the ground that
Aldridge's habeas claim is untimely. Aldridge concedes
that he filed his petition late, but opposes dismissal,
arguing that he is entitled to have the limitations period
tolled for extraordinary circumstances, pursuant to
Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010). He
also argues that he is actually innocent of first degree
murder and therefore is entitled to escape the limitations
period pursuant to McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct.
1924, 1930-31 (2013). On February 23, 2017, the Court held an
evidentiary hearing. Two witnesses were presented on the
issues relevant to equitable tolling, and the Court heard
oral argument regarding Petitioner's gateway claim of
actual innocence. Based on the record, the Court concludes
that Aldridge has failed to demonstrate that he is entitled
to equitable tolling and has not established a gateway claim
of actual innocence.
Equitable Tolling for Extraordinary