United States District Court, D. Maryland
Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge
Pending is Carroll Gaylord’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254, challenging his conviction in 2008 in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County for first- degree rape and related offenses. ECF 1. Respondents have filed a limited answer requesting dismissal of the petition as time-barred. ECF 7. Gaylord has filed a reply stating he is entitled to equitable tolling of the limitations period. ECF 9.
The matter is ripe for disposition. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
A jury sitting in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County convicted Gaylord of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, first-degree burglary, armed robbery, and related offenses. ECF 7-1; ECF 7-2. On October 6, 2008, the circuit court sentenced Gaylord to a term of life imprisonment for the first-degree rape conviction; a consecutive term of life imprisonment for the offense of first-degree sexual offense conviction; a twenty-year consecutive sentence for the robbery with a deadly and dangerous weapon; and a twenty-year sentence for the first-degree burglary conviction, concurrent with the sentence for robbery with a deadly weapon sentence, but consecutive to the two life sentences. The remaining convictions were merged. Id.
Gaylord appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, which affirmed the judgments in an unreported opinion filed on November 10, 2010. ECF 7-2. Thereafter, on March 21, 2011, the Court of Appeals of Maryland denied Gaylord’s petition for writ of certiorari. ECF 7-3. Gaylord did not seek further review by filing a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States.
On September 28, 2011, Gaylord filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. ECF 7-1 at 11. On January 13, 2012, Gaylord moved to withdraw the petition. The circuit court granted the motion to withdraw on January 24, 2012. Id.
Gaylord filed another petition for post-conviction relief on August 30, 2012. Id. By order filed December 20, 2013, the circuit court denied post-conviction relief. Id at 11. Gaylord did not file an application for leave to appeal.
Gaylord’s petition for federal habeas relief is dated August 18, 2014. ECF 1 at 8. For purposes of assessing the timeliness of the petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)-(2), the court will treat the petition as delivered to prison authorities on the date it was signed and dated. See United States v. Dorsey, 988 F.Supp. 917, 919-20 (D. Md. 1998) (rejecting limitations defense due to applicability of mail-box rule to petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255); Rule 3(d), Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings (discussing the mailbox rule).
A one-year statute of limitations applies to habeas petition cases for an individual in custody convicted in a state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1); Wall v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 550 (2011). The limitations period runs “from the latest of” four specified dates, including “the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review.” § 2244(d)(1)(A); see also Jimenez v. Quarterman, 555 U.S. 113, 119-120 (2009) (explaining when “the conclusion of direct review occurs”).
The one-year period is tolled while properly filed post-conviction proceedings are pending and may otherwise be equitably tolled. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); Wall, 562 U.S. at 549; Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 650-51 (2010); Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 328 (4th Cir. 2000); see also Whiteside v. United States, 775 F.3d 180, 184 (4th Cir. 2014) (en banc) (applying equitable tolling to one-year limitations period in 28 U.S.C. § 2255). But, the doctrine is meant to apply only where there are “extraordinary circumstances.” Holland, 560 U.S. at 634. Thus, to be entitled to equitable tolling, a petition must establish either that some wrongful conduct by respondent contributed to his delay in filing his motion to vacate, or that circumstances beyond his control caused the delay. See Harris, 209 F.3d at 330.
In other words, equitable tolling is available in “‘those rare instances where-due to circumstances external to the party’s own conduct-it would be unconscionable to enforce the limitation against the party.’” Whiteside, 775 F.3d at 184 (quoting Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d 238, 246 (4th Cir. 2003) (en banc)) (additional citations omitted); see United States v. Oriakhi, 394 Fed. App’x 976, 977 (4th Cir. 2010); Hill v. Braxton, 277 F.3d 701, 704 (4th Cir. 2001). In Harris, 209 F.3d at 330, the Fourth Circuit explained: “[A]ny resort to equity must be reserved for those rare instances where ... it would be unconscionable to enforce the limitation period against the party and gross injustice would result.” The cases cited above teach that a petitioner is entitled to equitable tolling only if he shows “‘(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way’ and prevented timely filing.” Holland, 560 U.S. at 649 (quoting Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005)). However, only “‘reasonable diligence’” is required. Holland, 560 U.S. at 653 (citation omitted). There is no requirement for “maximum feasible diligence.” Id. (Citations and internal quotations omitted).
Gaylord’s judgment of conviction became final for direct appeal purposes, and the one-year limitations period prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) began to run on June 20, 2011, when the time expired for filing for review in the Supreme Court. See Sup. Ct. Rule 13.1 (requiring petition for a writ of certiorari to be filed within 90 days of date of judgment from which review is sought). Gaylord had no State post-conviction or other collateral proceeding pending that statutorily tolled the limitations period until he filed his post-conviction petition 100 days later, on September 28, 2011. Post-conviction proceedings were pending until January 24, 2012, when the Circuit Court granted his motion to withdraw the petition. ECF 7-1 at 11. An additional 219 days then passed before Gaylord filed his second petition for ...