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Battiste v. Hegepath

September 29, 2010

ROBERT BATTISTE, PETITIONER,
v.
HEGEPATH, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Pending before the court is Respondent's motion to dismiss (Doc. 18). Petitioner filed an opposition to the motion, (Doc. 21), Respondent filed a reply (Doc. 22), and Petitioner filed an addendum to his opposition (Doc. 24). Petitioner opposes the motion, in part on a claim of equitable tolling. Pursuant to the court's order, Petitioner filed a supplemental brief addressing his equitable tolling claim (Doc. 29). Respondent did not avail himself of the opportunity to file a response thereto.

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases allows a district court to dismiss a petition if it "plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court . . . ." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The Ninth Circuit has allowed respondents to file a motion to dismiss in lieu of an answer if the motion attacks the pleadings for failing to exhaust state remedies or being in violation of the state's procedural rules. See, e.g., O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (9th Cir. 1990) (using Rule 4 to evaluate motion to dismiss petition for failure to exhaust state remedies); White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602-03 (9th Cir. 1989) (using Rule 4 as procedural grounds to review motion to dismiss for state procedural default); Hillery v. Pulley, 533 F. Supp. 1189, 1194 & n. 12 (E.D. Cal. 1982) (same). Thus, a respondent can file a motion to dismiss after the court orders a response, and the Court should use Rule 4 standards to review the motion. See Hillery, 533 F. Supp. at 1194 & n.12. The petitioner bears the burden of showing that he has exhausted state remedies. See Cartwright v. Cupp, 650 F.2d 1103, 1104 (9th Cir. 1981).

Respondent brings this motion to dismiss Petitioner's federal habeas corpus petition as filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations, pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).

Federal habeas corpus petitions must be filed within one year from the later of: (1) the date the state court judgment became final; (2) the date on which an impediment to filing created by state action is removed; (3) the date on which a constitutional right is newly-recognized and made retroactive on collateral review; or (4) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Typically, the statute of limitations will begin to run when the state court judgment becomes final by the conclusion of direct review or expiration of the time to seek direct review. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).

Where a petition for review by the California Supreme Court is filed and no petition for certiorari is filed in the United States Supreme Court, the one-year limitations period begins running the day after expiration of the 90-day time within which to seek review by the United States Supreme Court. See Patterson v. Stewart, 251 F.3d 1243, 1246 (9th Cir. 2001). Where a petition for writ of certiorari is filed in the United States Supreme Court, the one-year limitations period begins to run the day after certiorari is denied or the Court issued a merits decision. See Wixom v. Washington, 264 F.3d 894, 897 (9th Cir. 2001). Where no petition for review by the California Supreme Court is filed, the conviction becomes final 40 days following the Court of Appeal's decision, and the limitations period begins running the following day. See Smith v. Duncan, 297 F.3d 809 (9th Cir. 2002). If no appeal is filed in the Court of Appeal, the conviction becomes final 60 days after conclusion of proceedings in the state trial court, and the limitations period begins running the following day. If the conviction became final before April 24, 1996 -- the effective date of the statute of limitations -- the one-year period begins to run the day after the effective date, or April 25, 1996. See Miles v. Prunty, 187 F.3d 1104, 1105 (9th Cir. 1999).

The limitations period is tolled, however, for the time a properly filed application for post-conviction relief is pending in the state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). To be "properly filed," the application must be authorized by, and in compliance with, state law. See Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4 (2000); see also Allen v. Siebert, 552 U.S. 3 (2007); Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408 (2005) (holding that, regardless of whether there are exceptions to a state's timeliness bar, time limits for filing a state post-conviction petition are filing conditions and the failure to comply with those time limits precludes a finding that the state petition is properly filed). A state court application for post-conviction relief is "pending"during all the time the petitioner is attempting, through proper use of state court procedures, to present his claims. See Nino v. Galaza, 183 F.3d 1003, 1006 (9th Cir. 1999). It is not, however, considered "pending" after the state post-conviction process is concluded. See Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327 (2007) (holding that federal habeas petition not tolled for time during which certiorari petition to the Supreme Court was pending). Where the petitioner unreasonably delays between state court applications, however, there is no tolling for that period of time. See Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214 (2002). If the state court does not explicitly deny a post-conviction application as untimely, the federal court must independently determine whether there was undue delay. See id. at 226-27.

There is no tolling for the interval of time between post-conviction applications where the petitioner is not moving to the next higher appellate level of review. See Nino, 183 F.3d at 1006-07; see also Dils v. Small, 260 F.3d 984, 986 (9th Cir. 2001). There is also no tolling for the period between different sets of post-conviction applications. See Biggs v. Duncan, 339 F.3d 1045 (9th Cir. 2003). Finally, the period between the conclusion of direct review and the filing of a state post-conviction application does not toll the limitations period. See Nino, 1983 F.3d at 1006-07.

As the undersigned set forth in the prior order, Petitioner was convicted in the Superior Court of Solano County of second degree robbery on June 24, 2004. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the California Court of Appeal, which was affirmed on January 20, 2006. Petitioner then filed a petitioned for review with the California Supreme Court, which was denied on April 12, 2006. Petitioner did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United State Supreme Court. Therefore, the statute of limitations began on July 11, 2006. Through retained counsel, Petitioner filed a state habeas petition in the California Supreme Court on July 10, 2007. This petition was denied on February 13, 2008. Petitioner filed his federal petition in this court, proceeding pro se, on May 14, 2009.

There is no dispute that absent equitable tolling, Petitioner's federal petition would be considered untimely. Petitioner sought review by the California Supreme Court but did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Petitioner concedes his state habeas was filed on July 10, 2007, just prior to the end of the limitations period. The state court denied the petition on February 13, 2008. Petitioner did not file his federal habeas petition until May 14, 2009, well after the statute of limitations had run. Thus, without equitable tolling, Petitioner's federal habeas petition would be untimely.

The undersigned previously found Petitioner's claim for equitable tolling was insufficiently supported. Petitioner was therefore provided an opportunity to file an additional brief addressing the deficiencies identified. In the July 2, 2010, order for additional briefing, the undersigned set forth the following:

To be entitled to equitable tolling, the habeas petitioner bears the burden to demonstrate that: (1) he has been diligent in pursuing his rights; and (2) extraordinary circumstances prevented him from filing on time. See Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005); see also Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 336 (2007).

The Ninth Circuit has held "the threshold necessary to trigger equitable tolling under AEDPA is very high, least the exceptions swallow the rule." Miranda v. Castro, 292 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2002). "To apply the doctrine in 'extraordinary circumstances' necessarily suggests the doctrine's rarity, and the requirement that extraordinary circumstances 'stood in his way' suggests that an external force must cause the untimeliness, rather than, as we have said, merely 'oversight, miscalculation or negligence on [the petitioner's] part, all of which would preclude the application of equitable tolling." Waldron-Ramsey v. Pacholke, 556 F.3d 1008 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Harris v. Carter, 515 F.3d 1051, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008)).

The petitioner has the burden to show he is entitled to equitable tolling. See Espinoza-Matthews v. People, 432 F.3d 1021, 1026 (9th Cir. 2005). The egregious misconduct of counsel may warrant equitable tolling. See Spitsyn v. Moore, 345 F.3d 796 (9th Cir. 2003); see also Holland v. Florida, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 2564 (2010). However, equitable tolling is not appropriate based on the ordinary negligence of counsel. See Frye v. Hickman, 273 F.3d 1144 (9th Cir. 2001). Even where the egregious misconduct ...


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