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Warren v. Shearin

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 17, 2016

JOHN WILLIS WARREN, Petitioner
v.
BOBBY P. SHEARIN, and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATEOFMARYLAND, Respondents

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

         On February 5, 2014, [1] Petitioner John Willis Warren filed the instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus application attacking his convictions from 2000 for first-degree murder and a related handgun offense. (ECF No. 1). Respondents filed an Answer to the Petition, arguing that the Petition should be dismissed as time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). (ECF No. 8). Alternatively, Respondents argue that the Petition does not state a basis for relief and should be denied, without a hearing, on that basis. Warren filed a reply, stating that the Petition is timely filed and states a basis for relief. (ECF No. 10). After reviewing these papers, the Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. 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 set forth herein, the Court shall DENY and DISMISS the Petition with prejudice.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 17, 2000, after a jury trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Warren was convicted of first-degree murder and related handgun offenses. (ECF No. 1, p. 1; Resp. Ex. 13, p.1).[2] He was sentenced on January 20, 2001, to consecutive terms of life plus twenty years in prison. (ECF No. 1, p. 1; Resp. Ex. 13, p. 1).[3] Warren appealed the judgment to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland on the sole ground of insufficient evidence. (ECF No. 1, p. 2). The Court of Special Appeals affirmed his convictions in an unreported opinion dated April 5, 2002. (ECF No. 1, pp. 2-3; Resp. Ex. 9). Warren filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which was denied on June 21, 2002. (ECF No. 1, p. 3; Resp. Ex. 10). He did not file a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. (ECF No. 1, p. 3). Accordingly, Warren's conviction became final for direct appeal purposes on September 19, 2002, when the time for seeking review in the Supreme Court expired. See Sup.Ct. Rule 13.1.

         Warren filed a petition for a writ of actual innocence and motion for new trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on January 29, 2010, which was denied without a hearing on June 15, 2010. (ECF No. 1, p. 5; Resp. Ex. 13, p. 2). On October 14, 2010, Warren filed a postconviction petition in the circuit court, alleging prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. (ECF No. 1, pp 3-4; Resp. Ex. 11). Subsequently, he filed a pro se supplement to his petition and a counseled amended petition for post-conviction relief. (Resp. Ex. 13, p. 2). After a December 10, 2012, hearing, the circuit court denied the petition on February 11, 2013. (ECF No. 1, p. 4; Resp. Ex. 12, 13). Warren filed an application for leave to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals, which was summarily denied in an unreported opinion on January 15, 2014. (ECF No. 1, p. 4; Resp. Ex. 14, 15). The court's Mandate issued on March 12, 2014. (Resp. Ex. 15).

         Warren filed the instant Petition on February 5, 2014.[4]

         DISCUSSION

         Warren presents one claim for this court's review: "The State withheld evidence that would have changed the outcome of my trial." (ECF No. 1, pp. 5-6). Before it can address the merits of Warren's claim, however, the court must first determine whether the Petition is properly before this Court.

         I. TIMELINESS

         Title 28, U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) provides, in relevant part:

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;
...
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The statute further provides that "[t]he 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." Id. § 2244(d)(2).

         Respondents argue that, in Warren's case, the period of limitation began to run on September 19, 2002, and expired on September 19, 2003. (ECF No. 8, p. 9). Warren did not file his federal petition until more than ten years after the deadline. Further, "[b]ecause there were no properly filed state post conviction or other collateral proceedings related to Warren's cases pending in state court that would have tolled the limitations period during that time, Warren's current federal habeas petition is time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)." Id. (internal citation omitted). Although Warren states that he "filed a reconsideration of leave to appeal in the Special Appeals Court, " which was pending at the time he filed the instant Petition, (ECF No. 1, p. 5), he did not file his petition for writ of actual innocence and petition for post-conviction relief until 2010, well past the expiration of the limitations period for filing a federal habeas petition. Therefore, the Petition is untimely under § 2244(d)(1)(A).

         Warren, however, contends that "[he] is entitled to Federal review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244 (d)(1)(D)." (ECF No. 10, p. 1). He alleges that: "Soon after my conviction and sentence in 2001, I filed repeated M.P.I.A. request[s] to the Baltimore City Police Department/Homicide Division requesting my investigation files. They finally sent my files in 2009 and I discovered a clear Brady violation' soon after I filed an actual innocence['] and then my post-conviction." (ECF No. 1, p. 5). Warren states that:

Petitioner's petition is timely filed and does state a basis for relief. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(D), Petitioner's exercise of due diligence in discovering the Brady violation in the case sub judice and acted diligently after the discovery after the discovery of the Brady violation. Petitioner cannot be held accountable or penalized because of his Trial Counsel's "ineffectiveness" for failing to discover the Brady violation. At all relevant times, Petitioner relied on counsel during every and all proceedings.

(ECF No. 10, p. 3).[5] Warren provides no further information as to when he began filing his "repeated M.P.I.A. requests" or when in 2009 he "discovered" the alleged Brady violation.[6]

         Respondents argue that, even under § 2244(d)(1)(D), the Petition is still untimely. They posit that:

Warren does not identify in his petition the date upon which the factual predicate for his prosecutorial misconduct claim was discoverable, nor does he substantiate his assertions that he acted diligently to discover the information or acted diligently after the discovery of the information. In any event, Warren's bald and vague assertions are insufficient to invoke the alternative accrual provided by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(D). Based on the facts currently before the court, Warren's petition should be dismissed as time-barred.

(ECF No. 8, p. 10)(internal citation omitted).

         Respondents are correct that the Petition is vague and lacks specifics. Because the court cannot determine with certainty that the Petition is time-barred, however, it will not dismiss the Petition on that basis.

         Assuming that the Petition is timely filed, it would fail on the merits. Accordingly, the Court turns to the merits of Warren's claims.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         An application for writ of habeas corpus may be granted only for violations of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Section 2254(d) provides that:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim-
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States: or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented ...

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