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Roberts v. Morgan

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 29, 2016

AARON B. ROBERTS, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN J. PHILLIP MORGAN, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

George L, Russell, III United States District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner Aaron B. Roberts’ Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (2012). (ECF No. 1). Roberts challenges his 2009 judgment of conviction in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland for first-degree assault and related offenses. Having reviewed the Petition and Respondents’, Warden J. Phillip Morgan and the Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General of the State of Maryland, Limited Answer (ECF No. 6), the Court finds an evidentiary hearing is not necessary. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the Petition.

I. BACKGROUND

In September 2009, a jury in the Circuit Court convicted Roberts of first-degree assault and related firearm offenses. (ECF No. 6-1). On October 29, 2009, the Circuit Court judge sentenced Roberts to twenty-five years of imprisonment. (Id.). In an unreported opinion filed on April 22, 2011, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed the judgment of conviction. (ECF No. 6-2). On August 11, 2011, the Court of Appeals of Maryland denied Roberts’ request for further direct review. See Roberts v. State, 421 Md. 193 (2011). Roberts did not seek direct review in the Supreme Court of the United States.

On November 18, 2010, while his direct appeal was still pending, Roberts filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court. (ECF No. 6-1). On May 16, 2013, Roberts withdrew his post-conviction petition. (Id.). On January 7, 2014, Roberts filed a second petition for post-conviction relief. (Id.). The Circuit Court denied the petition on May 6, 2015. (Id.). Roberts filed an application for leave to appeal this adverse ruling on June 11, 2015. (Id.). On December 24, 2015, the Court of Special Appeals found the application for leave to appeal untimely and dismissed it for lack of jurisdiction. (ECF No. 6-3).

Roberts signed his Petition with this Court on December 28, 2015, and it was received for docketing by the Clerk of Court on December 31, 2015. (ECF No. 1). Roberts argues his 2009 conviction violates federal law based on ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Respondents filed a Limited Answer on February 16, 2016 (ECF No. 6), and Roberts filed a Reply, as amended, on March 8 and March 11, 2016 (ECF Nos. 8, 9).

II. DISCUSSION

Respondents argue that Robert’s Petition is time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Roberts argues that the “prison mailbox rule” enunciated in Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988), should be applied with regard to the key filing dates of his state post-judgment pleadings. Roberts states that he (1) submitted his post-conviction petition for refiling on December 9, 2013, but it was not docketed in the Circuit Court until January 7, 2014-a difference of 25 days- and (2) submitted his application for leave to appeal the denial of post-conviction relief on May 29, 2015, but it was not docketed in the Circuit Court until June 11, 2015-a difference of 13 days. He also argues that the time during which his leave to appeal the denial of post-conviction relief was pending in the Court of Special Appeals should serve to toll the limitations period.

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 by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court.” This one-year limitations period begins to 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 ...

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