United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS HABEAS
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
habeas action, respondent moves to dismiss the petition as
untimely. For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss
2007, a jury in Alameda County Superior Court convicted
petitioner Jideofor Ajaelo of first-degree murder (committed
by drive-by shooting) and three counts of attempted murder
(involving a firearm). He received a sentence of 25 years to
life in prison without the possibility of parole.
took a direct appeal on issues not presented in the instant
habeas petition, but he also appealed the charge to the jury
inasmuch as it instructed that petitioner could be found
guilty of aiding and abetting attempted premeditated murder
on a natural and probable consequence theory even if he
lacked the intent to kill.
California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, and the
California Supreme Court denied review. Ajaelo did not seek a
writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
2014, the California Supreme Court decided People v.
Chiu, 59 Cal.4th 155, 166 (2014), holding that a
first-degree premeditated murder conviction could
not be based on the natural and probable consequence
theory. In other words, the California Supreme Court
announced a rule that may have invalidated a charge to the
jury that convicted Ajaelo.
2015, Ajaelo sought habeas relief in Alameda County Superior
Court based on Chiu, which relief was denied based
on a finding that Ajaelo had suffered no prejudice due to
that instruction, in light of another jury finding that
included as an element the intent to inflict death.
next sought the same relief from the California Court of
Appeal, which relief was summarily denied. Ajaelo then sought
review by the California Supreme Court, alleging that the
Court of Appeal had improperly denied his habeas petition.
After entertaining an answer from the state, the California
Supreme Court summarily denied review.
now seeks federal habeas relief pursuant to Section 2254 of
Title 28 of the United States Code, seeking to reverse his
conviction based on Chiu. Respondent moves to
dismiss the action as untimely. This order follows full
briefing on the motion to dismiss.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
imposed a one-year statute of limitations that applies to
federal habeas petitions. 28 U.S.C. 2244(d). All agree that
the limitations period for a federal habeas petition
generally commences on “the date on which the judgment
became final by the conclusion of direct review or the
expiration of the time for seeking such review.” 28
U.S.C. 2244(d)(1)(A). Here, the judgment became final in
2009, after the California Supreme Court denied review on
direct appeal and the time to seek certiorari from the United
States Supreme Court elapsed. Ajaelo's state-court
petition was filed more than five years later, in 2015, well
outside the limitations period based on that start date.
contends he is entitled to an alternative start date,
pursuant to Section 2244(d)(1)(C) under AEDPA, which restarts
the clock on the limitations period from “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 . . . .” The
constitutional rule asserted was announced in Chiu -
a decision from the Califo ...