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Johnson v. Lee

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Cookeville Division

August 15, 2019

CHARLES D. JOHNSON #287181, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN RANDY LEE, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The pro se Petitioner is a state inmate serving an effective prison sentence of life without possibility of parole plus 25 years for first-degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. (Doc. No. 17-1 at 27-28.) He seeks a federal writ of habeas corpus.[1] (Doc. No. 1.)

         Respondent moves to dismiss the petition on the basis that it is untimely. (Doc. No. 18.) For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant Respondent's motion and dismiss the petition.

         I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Petitioner pleaded guilty on February 17, 1998, to first-degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. (Doc. No. 1 at 1; Doc. No. 17-1 at 27-28.) He was sentenced to life without parole and twenty-five years, to be served consecutively. (Id.) Judgment on the convictions entered on February 17 and February 18, 1998. (Doc. No. 17-1 at 27-28.) Petitioner did not file a direct appeal or a post-conviction petition. More than nine years later, on July 10, 2007, he filed a state petition for writ of habeas corpus, which was denied on August 14, 2007. (Doc. No. 17-1 at 3, 48.) The dismissal was affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied review on August 25, 2008. (Doc. No. 17-5.) In his appellate brief in that case, Petitioner claimed to have filed and nonsuited a previous state habeas petition, but Respondent has not filed records pertaining to that filing, and Petitioner does not assert the dates of filing or dismissal. (Doc. No. 17-2 at 6.) Nevertheless, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals indicated that the 2008 appeal was from Petitioner's “second pro se petition for habeas corpus relief.” Johnson v. State, No. E2007-02018-CCA-R3-HC, 2008 WL 1875166, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 28, 2008).

         Petitioner filed another state petition for writ of habeas corpus on May 6, 2016. (Doc. No. 17-6 at 3.) That petition was also dismissed (Doc. No. 17-6 at 27), and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals again affirmed on June 1, 2018. (Doc. No. 17-9.) In the course of that appeal, the State acknowledged that Petitioner had filed two previous state petitions for habeas corpus relief. (Doc. No. 17-8 at 7.) Likewise, the state court indicated that the appeal before it arose “from Petitioner's third petition for habeas corpus relief.” (Doc. No. 17-9 at 2.)

         II. ISSUE PRESENTED FOR REVIEW

         Petitioner presents a single claim for relief: “Petitioner was never indicted by the State of Tennessee prior to his plea, ” in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (Doc. No. 1 at 1-2.) He asserts that the State has not been able to produce his indictment or otherwise “presented any facts” establishing that Petitioner “is in custody pursuant to such indictment, presentment or criminal information.” (Id. at 3.)

         III. RESPONDENT'S MOTION AND ANALYSIS

         Respondent asserts that Petitioner's habeas corpus petition is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. (Doc. No. 19.) The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) imposes a one-year limitations period for habeas petitions brought by prisoners challenging state-court convictions. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Under this provision, the limitations period runs from the latest of four enumerated events:

(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 ...

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