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Hopkins v. Goins-Johnson

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

July 7, 2015

McKENZIE HOPKINS, Petitioner,
v.
PATRICIA GOINS-JOHNSON, WARDEN, et al. Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PAUL W. GRIMM, District Judge.

Petitioner has sought a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that his mental disabilities and mental health issues prevented him from entering a voluntary and knowing plea and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Respondents have entered a limited response arguing that the petition is time-barred under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). Petitioner acknowledges that his petition was untimely, but argues that the statute of limitations should be equitably tolled because of his significant mental disabilities and his efforts to seek timely post-conviction relief. I agree with Petitioner and find that the limitations period is equitably tolled.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner McKenzie Hopkins is an inmate in Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland. Hopkins had been charged in four separate cases in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and entered a guilty plea in all four cases on May 24, 2007. See Case Information Sheets, Limited Answer to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Order to Show Cause ("Limited Resp.") Ex. 1, ECF No. 25-1. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, all but thirty-five years suspended. Plea Hr'g Tr. 34:2-14, Mem. of Law in Supp. of Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a Person in State Custody ("Pet'r's Mem.") Ex. 12, ECF No. 22-7. Hopkins did not seek a direct appeal. Case Inquiry 3, Limited Resp. Ex. 1, ECF No. 25-1.

On July 14, 2011, he filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. Pet. for Post-Conviction Relief, Pet'r's Mem. Ex. 14, ECF No. 22-8. Following a hearing on February 10, 2012, Case Inquiry 4, Hopkins's petition was denied on April 16, 2012, id. at 5. He sought leave to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland on May 14, 2012, Appl. for Leave to Appeal from the Denial of Post Conviction, Pet'r's Mem. Ex. 17, ECF No. 22-11, which was denied on January 25, 2013, and the mandate issued February 25, 2013. Case Inquiry 5; Mandate, Hopkins v. State, No. 00594 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Feb. 25, 2013), Limited Resp. Ex. 2, ECF No. 25-2.

Hopkins filed his initial petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on November 7, 2013, dated November 3, 2013. Pet., ECF No. 1. Although his initial petition was difficult to understand, Hopkins claimed that "none of the lawyers that [he] had even considered the fact of [his] mental illness, " Pet. 1, and attached a report suggesting that he may not have been competent to stand trial or enter a plea, Levinson Report, ECF No. 1-2.

After initially seeking to have Hopkins supplement his petition, Order, ECF No. 2, I found that his mental health issues necessitated the appointment of counsel under the Criminal Justice Act and appointed counsel on January 13, 2014, Order, ECF No. 4. After a thorough investigation, Hopkins's appointed counsel filed a supplemental Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a Person in State Custody ("Supp. Pet."), ECF No. 18, on September 22, 2014, supported by a sealed memorandum ("Pet'r's Mem."), ECF No. 19-1. On October 6, 2014, I ordered Respondents Patricia Goins-Johnson, Warden of the Patuxent Institution, and Douglas F. Gansler, then-Attorney General of the State of Maryland, to respond.[1]

On November 25, 2014, Respondents filed their Limited Response, ECF No. 30, arguing that Hopkins's petition should be dismissed as time-barred under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("ADEPA") as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Though couched as an answer, the Limited Response sounds in a motion to dismiss and will be construed as such. Hopkins responded ("Pet'r's Reply") by acknowledging that his petition was filed outside the one-year statute of limitations, but arguing that his claims should be subject to equitable tolling.

II. LIMITATIONS PERIOD UNDER AEDPA

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d),

(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus 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 ...

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