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Worsley v. Gipson

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 11, 2014

GERALD HAYDN WORSLEY, Petitioner,
v.
CONNIE GIPSON, Warden, Respondent

Gerald Haydn Worsley, Petitioner, Pro se, CORCORAN, CA.

ORDER TO DISMISS PETITION FOR VIOLATION OF THE ONE-YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS (Doc. 1) ORDER DIRECTING THE CLERK OF COURT TO ENTER JUDGMENT AND CLOSE THE CASE ORDER DECLINING TO ISSUE CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

Jennifer L. Thurston, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding in propria persona with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner filed his written consent to the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Judge for all purposes on September 4, 2014. (Doc. 5).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The instant petition was filed on August 25, 2014.[1] After a preliminary review of the petition revealed that the petition may be untimely and should therefore be dismissed, the Court, on August 28, 2014, issued an Order to Show Cause why the petition should not be dismissed as untimely. (Doc. 4). On September 10, 2014, Petitioner filed his response, in which he contends that he is entitled to equitable tolling because he is not versed in the law and needed assistance from another inmate to proceed. (Doc. 6). For the following reasons, the Court finds Petitioner's claim of equitable tolling to be insufficient to avoid dismissal of the petition for violating the one-year limitation period. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss the petition as untimely.

DISCUSSION

A. Preliminary Review of Petition.

Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases allows a district court to dismiss a petition if it " plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court . . . ." Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 8 indicate that the court may dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus, either on its own motion under Rule 4, pursuant to the respondent's motion to dismiss, or after an answer to the petition has been filed. Herbst v. Cook, 260 F.3d 1039 (9th Cir.2001).

The Ninth Circuit, in Herbst v. Cook, concluded that a district court may dismiss sua sponte a habeas petition on statute of limitations grounds so long as the court provides the petitioner adequate notice of its intent to dismiss and an opportunity to respond. 260 F.3d at 1041-42. By issuing this Order to Show Cause, the Court is affording Petitioner the notice required by the Ninth Circuit in Herbst.

B. Limitation Period For Filing Petition For Writ Of Habeas Corpus

On April 24, 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). The AEDPA imposes various requirements on all petitions for writ of habeas corpus filed after the date of its enactment. Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 117 S.Ct. 2059, 2063, 138 L.Ed.2d 481 (1997); Jeffries v. Wood, 114 F.3d 1484, 1499 (9th Cir. 1997) (en banc), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1008, 118 S.Ct. 586, 139 L.Ed.2d 423 (1997). The instant petition was filed on August 25, 2014, and thus, it is subject to the provisions of the AEDPA.

The AEDPA imposes a one-year period of limitation on petitioners seeking to file a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). As amended, § 2244, subdivision (d) reads:

(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of --
(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.
(2) The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).

In most cases, the limitation period begins running on the date that the petitioner's direct review became final. Here, the Petitioner was convicted on November 24, 2002. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Petitioner appealed to the California Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District (" 5th DCA"), which reversed the judgment and remanded for re-sentencing on February 28, 2005. (Id., p. 2). Though Petitioner does not specify the chronology of his entire direct appeal, the Court has accessed the California court system's electronic database to fill in the necessary dates.[2] Petitioner then filed a petition for review that was denied by the California Supreme Court on May 16, 2005 in case no. F044504. Following re-sentencing, Petitioner again appealed to the 5th DCA, and in case no. F048376, the 5th DCA affirmed the sentence following remand on May 26, 2006, but remanded the case for unspecified reasons. Petitioner did not file a petition for review following the 5th DCA's ruling. The State of California's court records to not indicate any further action by the appellate courts on Petitioner's conviction and sentence following the final remand.

According to the California Rules of Court, a decision of the Court of Appeal becomes final thirty days after filing of the opinion, Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 8.264(b)(1), and an appeal must be taken to the California Supreme Court within ten days of finality. Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 8.500(e)(1). Thus, Petitioner's conviction would become final forty days after the Court of Appeal's decision was filed, or on July 5, 2006. Petitioner would then have one year from the following day, July 6, 2006, or until July 5, 2007, absent applicable tolling, within which to file his federal petition for writ of habeas corpus.

As mentioned, the instant petition was filed on August 25, 2014, seven years after the date the one-year period would have expired. Thus, unless Petitioner is entitled to either statutory or equitable tolling sufficient to account for ensuing seven years, the instant petition is untimely and should be dismissed.

C. Tolling of the Limitation Period Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2)

Under the AEDPA, the statute of limitations is tolled during the time that a properly filed application for state post-conviction or other collateral review is pending in state court. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). A properly filed application is one that complies with the applicable laws and rules governing filings, including the form of the application and time limitations. Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4, 8, 121 S.Ct. 361, 148 L.Ed.2d 213 (2000). An application is pending during the time that 'a California petitioner completes a full round of [state] collateral review, " so long as there is no unreasonable delay in the intervals between a lower court decision and the filing of a petition in a higher court. Delhomme v. Ramirez, 340 F.3d 817, 819 (9th Cir. 2003), abrogated on other grounds as recognized by Waldrip v. Hall, 548 F.3d 729 (9th Cir. 2008)(per curium)(internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see Evans v. Chavis, 546 U.S. 189, 193-194, 126 S.Ct. 846, 163 L.Ed.2d 684 (2006); see Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 220, 222-226, 122 S.Ct. 2134, 153 L.Ed.2d 260 (2002); see also, Nino v. Galaza, 183 F.3d 1003, 1006 (9th Cir. 1999).

Nevertheless, there are circumstances and periods of time when no statutory tolling is allowed. For example, no statutory tolling is allowed for the period of time between finality of an appeal and the filing of an application for post-conviction or other collateral review in state court, because no state court application is " pending" during that time. Nino, 183 F.3d at 1006-1007; Rasberry v. Garcia, 448 F.3d 1150, 1153 n. 1 (9th Cir. 2006). Similarly, no statutory tolling is allowed for the period between finality of an appeal and the filing of a federal petition. Id. at 1007. In addition, the limitation period is not tolled during the time that a federal habeas petition is pending. Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-182, 121 S.Ct. 2120, 150 L.Ed.2d 251 (2001); see also, Fail v. Hubbard, 315 F.3d 1059, 1060 (9th Cir. 2001)(as amended on December 16, 2002). Further, a petitioner is not entitled to statutory tolling where the limitation period has already run prior to filing a state habeas petition. Ferguson v. Palmateer, 321 F.3d 820, 823 (9th Cir. 2003) (" section 2244(d) does not permit the reinitiation of the limitations period that has ended before the state petition was filed."); Jiminez v. Rice, 276 F.3d 478, 482 (9th Cir. 2001). Finally, a petitioner is not entitled to continuous tolling when the petitioner's later petition raises unrelated claims. See Gaston v. Palmer, 447 F.3d 1165, 1166 (9th Cir. 2006).

Here, Petitioner alleges that he filed the following state habeas petitions: (1) petition filed in the Superior Court of Kern County on September 24, 2013, and denied with no date specified; [3] and (2) petition filed in the California Supreme Court on June 16, 2014, and denied on August 13, 2014.

Although the record does not reflect the date on which the Kern County Superior Court denied the petition filed on September 24, 2013, that is of no importance since a petitioner is not entitled to statutory tolling where the limitations period has already run prior to filing a state habeas petition. Green v. White, 223 F.3d 1001, 1003 (9th Cir. 2000); Jiminez v. Rice, 276 F.3d 478 (9th Cir. 2001); see Webster v. Moore, 199 F.3d 1256, 1259 (11th Cir. 2000)(same); Ferguson v. Palmateer, 321 F.3d 820 (9th Cir. 2003)(" section 2244(d) does not permit the reinitiation of the limitations period that has ended before the state petition was filed."); Jackson v. Dormire, 180 F.3d 919, 920 (8th Cir. 1999) (petitioner fails to exhaust claims raised in state habeas corpus filed after expiration of the one-year limitations period). Here, as mentioned, the limitations period expired on July 5, 2007, and Petitioner did not file his first state habeas petition until September 24, 2013, over six years later. Accordingly, Petitioner cannot avail himself of the statutory tolling provisions of the AEDPA for his two state habeas petitions.

D. Equitable Tolling.

The running of the one-year limitation period under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) is subject to equitable tolling in appropriate cases. See Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 651-652, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 2561, 177 L.Ed.2d 130 (2010); Calderon v. United States Dist. Ct., 128 F.3d 1283, 1289 (9th Cir. 1997). The limitation period is subject to equitable tolling when " extraordinary circumstances beyond a prisoner's control make it impossible to file the petition on time." Shannon v. Newland, 410 F.3d 1083, 1089-1090 (9th Cir. 2005)(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). " When external forces, rather than a petitioner's lack of diligence, account for the failure to file a timely claim, equitable tolling of the statute of limitations may be appropriate." Miles v. Prunty, 187 F.3d 1104, 1107 (9th Cir. 1999). " Generally, a litigant seeking equitable tolling bears the burden of establishing two elements: " (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way." Holland, 560 U.S. at 651-652; Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418, 125 S.Ct. 1807, 161 L.Ed.2d 669 (2005). " [T]he threshold necessary to trigger equitable tolling under AEDPA is very high, lest the exceptions swallow the rule." Miranda v. Castro, 292 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2002)(citation omitted). As a consequence, " equitable tolling is unavailable in most cases." Miles, 187 F.3d at 1107.

Here, Petitioner, in his response to the Order to Show Cause, contends that he is entitled to equitable tolling because of his lack of knowledge of legal matters and his need to enlist the help of other inmates to proceed. Such allegations are insufficient to invoke the doctrine of equitable tolling. A petitioner's claims of ignorance of the law, lack of education, or illiteracy are not grounds for equitable tolling. Rasberry v. Garcia, 448 F.3d 1150, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006); see, e.g., Hughes v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 800 F.2d 905, 909 (9th Cir.1986) (pro se prisoner's illiteracy and lack of knowledge of law unfortunate but insufficient to establish cause); Fisher v. Johnson, 174 F.3d 710 (5th Cir. 1999); Rose v. Dole, 945 F.2d 1331, 1335 (6th Cir.1991). Petitioner's indigent status and limited legal knowledge is no different than the overwhelming majority of incarcerated state prisoners attempting to file federal petitions for writ of habeas corpus. Such circumstances, therefore, are, by definition and necessity, not extraordinary and, hence, do not justify equitable tolling. If limited resources and legal knowledge were excuses for not complying with the limitations period, Congress would have never enacted the AEDPA since most incarcerated prisoners share these same problems. Thus, the limitations period will not be equitably tolled on the grounds set forth by Petitioner in his response to the Order to Show Cause. Accordingly, the petition is untimely by almost seven years and must be dismissed.

Moreover, the Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability. A state prisoner seeking a writ of habeas corpus has no absolute entitlement to appeal a district court's denial of his petition, and an appeal is only allowed in certain circumstances. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 335-336, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 154 L.Ed.2d 931 (2003). The controlling statute in determining whether to issue a certificate of appealability is 28 U.S.C. § 2253, which provides as follows:

(a) In a habeas corpus proceeding or a proceeding under section 2255 before a district judge, the final order shall be subject to review, on appeal, by the court of appeals for the circuit in which the proceeding is held.
(b) There shall be no right of appeal from a final order in a proceeding to test the validity of a warrant to remove to another district or place for commitment or trial a person charged with a criminal offense against the United States, or to test the validity of such person's detention pending removal proceedings.
(c)(1) Unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability, an appeal may not be taken to the court of appeals from--
(A) the final order in a habeas corpus proceeding in which the detention complained of arises out of process issued by a State court; or
(B) the final order in a proceeding under section 2255.
(2) A certificate of appealability may issue under paragraph (1) only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
(3) The certificate of appealability under paragraph (1) shall indicate which specific issue or issues satisfy the showing required by paragraph (2).

If a court denied a petitioner's petition, the court may only issue a certificate of appealability when a petitioner makes a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). To make a substantial showing, the petitioner must establish that " reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were 'adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further'." Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 146 L.Ed.2d 542 (2000) ( quoting Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 893, 103 S.Ct. 3383, 77 L.Ed.2d 1090 (1983)).

In the present case, the Court finds that Petitioner has not made the required substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right to justify the issuance of a certificate of appealability. Reasonable jurists would not find the Court's determination that Petitioner is not entitled to federal habeas corpus relief debatable, wrong, or deserving of encouragement to proceed further. Thus, the Court DECLINES to issue a certificate of appealability.

ORDER

For the foregoing reasons, the Court HEREBY ORDERS:

1. The petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1), is DISMISSED as untimely;
2. The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to enter judgment and close the file; and,
3. The Court DECLINES to issue a certificate of appealability.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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