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Cooper v. Grounds

November 19, 2010

JERRY LEE COOPER, PETITIONER,
v.
RANDY GROUNDS, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On May 24, 2010, the undersigned ordered respondent to file and serve a response to the petition. On July 23, 2010, respondent filed the pending motion to dismiss, arguing that petitioner's federal habeas petition is time-barred under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). Petitioner has filed an opposition to the motion.

BACKGROUND

On May 29, 2001, a San Joaquin County Superior Court jury found petitioner guilty of residential robbery. A number of enhancement allegations were also found to be true. As a result, the trial court sentenced petitioner to forty years to life in state prison. On April 16, 2002, the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District affirmed petitioner's judgment of conviction. Petitioner did not file a petition for review with the California Supreme Court. (Pet. at 2, Resp't's Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A.)

Petitioner subsequently filed eleven petitions seeking habeas corpus relief in state court. He filed his first six petitions in the San Joaquin County Superior Court, all of which were denied. He then filed two habeas petitions in the California Court of Appeal, which were also denied. Finally, he filed three additional habeas petitions in the San Joaquin County Superior Court, all of which were denied as well. (Resp't's Lodged Docs. 1-11.)

On May 14, 2010, petitioner commenced this action by filing a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus with this court.

RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

I. Respondent's Motion

Respondent moves to dismiss the pending habeas petition, arguing that it is time- barred. Specifically, respondent argues that petitioner's conviction became "final" on May 27, 2002, after his time for seeking review in the California Supreme Court expired, and that petitioner had one year thereafter in which to file a federal habeas petition challenging his conviction. (Resp't's Mot. to Dismiss at 3-4.)

Respondent implicitly acknowledges that the proper filing of a state post-conviction application challenging a judgment of conviction tolls the one-year statute of limitations for the filing of a federal habeas petition. However, respondent contends that 286 days of the statute of limitations period elapsed before petitioner filed his first habeas petition in the San Joaquin County Superior Court. In addition, respondent contends that petitioner is not entitled to tolling for the intervals between the petitions he filed with the Superior Court because those petitions were successive and not filed in a higher state court. Respondent contends that by the time petitioner filed his federal habeas petition, the statute of limitations for doing so had long since expired. (Resp't's Mot. to Dismiss at 3-4.)

II. Petitioner's Opposition

In opposition to respondent's motion to dismiss, petitioner argues that as long as he "wasted his time in state courts," timeliness should not be an issue in this court. In addition, petitioner contends that the state courts denied his various habeas petitions on the merits and not on grounds of timeliness. (Pet'r's Opp'n to Resp't's Mot. to Dismiss at 3-6.)

ANALYSIS

I. The AEDPA Statute of Limitations

On April 24, 1996, Congress enacted AEDPA which amended 28 U.S.C. ยง 2244 by adding ...


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