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Ricky D. Matthews v. Greg Lewis

September 2, 2011

RICKY D. MATTHEWS,
PETITIONER,
v.
GREG LEWIS,*FN1 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. 12), petitioner's request for equitable tolling and stay (Doc. 15), and petitioner's motion to amend his petition (Doc. 19).

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 mixed federal habeas corpus petition as filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to equitable tolling and a stay in order to complete exhaustion of his claims.

I. Statute of Limitations

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.

Here, petitioner is challenging his 2005 conviction. Petitioner admits in his request for equitable tolling, that his statute of limitations time started running on March 12, 2008, ninety days after the California Supreme Court denied his request for review. His federal habeas petition was filed in this court on May 14, 2010. Providing petitioner the benefit of the mailbox rule, his petition was signed on April 30, 3010. Thus, without some type of available tolling, his federal habeas petition is clearly untimely having been filed more than two years after the statute of limitations began.

Petitioner filed his state habeas petition in the Sacramento County Superior Court on June 26, 2009. That petition was denied on September 23, 2009. He then filed his petition in this court. His petition to the California Supreme Court, filed after his federal petition was filed, was filed on May 10, 2010, and denied on January 26, 2011. Therefore, again without some type of tolling, his state habeas petition was filed outside the statute of limitations. Even if the court were to find petitioner eligible for equitable tolling, as discussed below, he is not entitled to any statutory tolling between state habeas petitions. Petitioner received his denial from the Sacramento County Superior Court on September 23, 2009, and failed to file another state habeas petition without undue delay. Petitioner waited almost nine months after receiving his state habeas denial before filing at the next state appellate level. A delay of eight months is clearly unreasonable. See Carey, 536 U.S. 214; see also Evans v. Chavis, 546 U.S. 189, 201 (2006) (observing that 30 to 60 days would normally be reasonable). Numerous judges who have considered this issue agree that a delay far shorter than the delay involved here is unreasonable. See Contreras v. Curry, 2008 WL 4291473 (N.D. Cal. 2008) (involving 88-day delay); Livermoore v. Watson, 2008 WL 802330 (E.D. Cal. 2008) (involving 78-day delay); Hunt v. Felker, 2008 WL 364995 (E.D. Cal. 2008) (involving 70-day delay); Young v. Hickman, 2008 WL 361011 (E.D. Cal. 2008) (involving 95-day delay); Bridge v. Runnels, 2007 WL 2695177 (E.D. Cal. 2007) (involving 76-day delay). The delay between state filings therefore, does not entitle petitioner to statutory tolling, which he apparently concedes as he has not argued otherwise. Instead, petitioner relies on his request for equitable tolling to render his federal habeas petition timely.

II. Equitable tolling

Because the statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) is not jurisdictional, it is subject to traditional equitable tolling principles. See Calderon v. United States Dist. Ct. (Beeler), 128 F.3d 1283, 1288 (9th Cir. 1997), overruled in part on other grounds by Calderon v. United States Dist. Ct. (Kelly), 163 F.3d 530 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc). To be entitled to equitable tolling, the petitioner must demonstrate that: (1) he has been diligent in pursuing his ...


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