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James v. Crowell

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

May 9, 2019

REGGIE C. JAMES, Petitioner,
v.
GEORGIA CROWELL, Respondent.

          ORDER DISMISSING § 2254 AMENDED PETITION, DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          J. DANIEL BREEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In April 2017, Petitioner, Reggie C. James, filed a pro se habeas corpus petition (the “Petition”), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket Entry (“D.E.”) 1.) In compliance with the Court's order of September 20, 2017, (D.E. 12), he refiled his claims on the Court's official form (the “Amended Petition”), (D.E. 13). Respondent, Georgia Crowell, has moved to dismiss the Amended Petition as untimely. (D.E. 22.) For the reasons that follow the motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         In January 2007, a Madison County, Tennessee, jury convicted James of first degree murder and tampering with evidence. (D.E. 21-1 at PageID 190-91.) The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus ten years. (Id.) On direct appeal, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgments, and the Tennessee Supreme Court declined discretionary review. See State v. James, No.W2007-00775-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 636726, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 10, 2009), perm. appeal denied (Tenn. Aug. 17, 2009).

         On April 21, 2010, Petitioner submitted a pro se post-conviction petition to prison authorities for mailing. (D.E. No. 21-15 at PageID 993, 1027.) The state trial court held an evidentiary hearing and denied relief on January 31, 2012. (Id. at PageID 1057-58.) Several years later, Petitioner filed a notice of appeal, and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely. James v. State, No. W2015-01640-CCA-R3-PC, 2016 WL 1055365, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 16, 2016), perm. appeal denied (Tenn. June 24, 2016). The Tennessee Supreme Court declined discretionary review on June 24, 2016. (D.E. 21-22.)

         On April 11, 2017, Petitioner submitted his Petition to prison authorities for mailing to this Court. (D.E. 1 at PageID 32.) On preliminary review, the Court ordered him to show cause why the Amended Petition should not be dismissed as untimely. (D.E. 14.) The inmate filed a response to the show-cause order, asserting that he is entitled to equitable tolling of the limitations period. (D.E. 15.) The Court ordered Respondent to respond to Amended Petition, (D.E. 16), which she did by submitting a motion to dismiss, (D.E. 22). She argues that the Petition was filed well beyond the expiration of the applicable limitations period and that the inmate has not established entitlement to equitable tolling. Petitioner did not file a reply, although allowed to do so. (See D.E. 16 at PageID 112.)

         DISCUSSION

         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.

         In this case, § 2244(d)(1)(A) applies, which means that James had one year from the date on which his judgment of conviction became final to file a federal habeas petition. Taking into account statutory tolling under 28 U.S.C. § ...


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