United States District Court, D. Maryland
JAMISON H. JOHNSON, #364279 Petitioner,
WARDEN KEITH LYONS, et al., Respondents.
K. Bredar United States District Judge
Jamison H. Johnson (“Johnson”) seeks habeas
corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, attacking
his 2010 convictions in the Circuit Court for Baltimore
County. ECF No. 1. Respondents’ limited answer to the
petition and Johnson’s reply remain pending. ECF Nos. 4
& 6. After review, the court finds no need for an
evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District
Courts and Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014); see also
Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000)
(petitioner not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. §
2254(e)(2)). For reasons to follow, the petition shall be
dismissed as time-barred.
and Procedural History
25, 2010, Johnson entered a guilty plea to one count of armed
robbery in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. All other
charges were nolle prossed. ECF No. 4-1 at pp. 2-5.
Respondents maintain that on July 30, 2010, Johnson was
sentenced as a subsequent offender to serve 25 years in
prison without parole. Johnson’s appeal was summarily
denied by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on March 29,
2012. ECF No. 4-2. Therefore, his judgment of conviction
became final on June 27, 2012, when the 90-day period for
filing a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme
Court expired. See Sup. Ct. R. 13.1 (requiring
petition for writ of certiorari to be filed within ninety
days of date of judgment from which review is sought);
Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525 (2003)
(state judgment becomes final for habeas purposes when the
time expires for filing a petition for writ of certiorari to
the Supreme Court or ninety days following the decision of
the state's highest court).
observe that Johnson filed a timely motion for modification
of sentence and application for a three-judge panel review.
ECF No. 4-1. According to respondents, Johnson’s motion
was denied on November 17, 2010, and his application was
denied on April 24, 2013. Id.
16, 2014, Johnson filed a petition for post-conviction
relief. The petition was denied by the Circuit County for
Baltimore County on April 6, 2015. Johnson’s
application for leave to appeal the denial of his
post-conviction petition was summarily denied by the Maryland
Court of Special Appeals on August 24, 2015. ECF No. 4-3.
This 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition was received for filing
on February 10, 2016.
to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), when filing a federal habeas corpus
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, defendants
convicted in state court on a non-capital offense are subject
to a one-year statute of limitations. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d). Johnson’s conviction became final
for purposes of direct appeal in June of 2012 and, under a
generous construction, he is entitled to statutory tolling of
the one-year limitation period until April 24, 2013, when his
application for panel review became final. He therefore had
one year from April 25, 2013, to file his petition in this
court. The one-year period would be statutorily tolled
commencing on May 16, 2014, upon Johnson’s filing of
his post-conviction petition, but a total of 387 days had
already run in the interim period when no collateral review
was pending. Upon the conclusion of the post-conviction
process in 2015, another 140 days lapsed until this petition
was filed. Thus, a total of 527 days expired prior to the
filing of this petition, which was submitted outside the
one-year statute of limitations period.
reply, Johnson states that he filed his application for
review by a three-judge panel on August 24, 2010, and it was
held pending review for approximately 965 days, until April
of 2013. He argues that under Maryland law a decision by the
sentencing review panel is appealable and, under Clay v.
United States, 537 U.S. 522 (2003), the one-year period
should be statutorily tolled for another 90 days (until July
19, 2013) in which a petition for writ of certiorari could be
filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. ECF No. 6. He further
contends that attention should be given to his mental health
and “abnormality” as it constitutes an
“extraordinary circumstance” warranting equitable
tolling. Id. at pp. 5-7.
court has credited as tolled the lengthy period during which
Johnson’s motion for three-judge panel review remained
pending. Johnson’s argument for further statutory
tolling is not persuasive and misconstrues the Clay
opinion. He seeks to toll the 90-day period following the
denial of his motion for review by a three-judge panel in
April of 2013. The motion in question, unlike the direct
appeal involved in Clay, does not provide an
on-the-merits review of Johnson’s conviction. This
court knows of no instance when Clay has been
applied to a motion for review by a three-judge
panel. Such motions involve a request for
leniency and do not raise cognizable federal claims requiring
exhaustion. See Tasker v. State, Civil Action No.
AW-11-1869 (D. Md. Jan. 31, 2013), aff’d 517
F. App’x 172 (4th Cir. 2013).
Johnson’s argument for equitable tolling is without
merit. It is true that under certain circumstances the
AEDPA’s statute of limitations may be subject to
equitable tolling. See, e.g., Harris v.
Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 328 (4th Cir. 2000);
United States v. Prescott, 221 F.3d 686, 687-88 (4th
Cir. 2000); see also Wall v. Kholi, 131
S.Ct. 1278, 1283 (2011). The Fourth Circuit has consistently
held that a party seeking to avail himself of equitable
tolling must show that (1) extraordinary circumstances, (2)
beyond his control or external to his own conduct, (3)
prevented him from filing on time. Rouse v. Lee, 339
F.3d 238, 246 (4th Cir. 2003) (en banc). Additionally, the
movant must show that he employed reasonable diligence in
investigating and bringing his claims. Further, to be
entitled to equitable tolling, a petitioner must show
“(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently,
and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way
and prevented timely filing.” Holland v.
Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010) (citing Pace v.
DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005)). A
petitioner's health condition acts to toll the
limitations period only if the condition “in fact
prevents the sufferer from managing his affairs and thus from
understanding his legal rights and acting upon them.”
Miller v. Runyon, 77 F.3d 189, 191 (7th Cir. 1996).
In order to overcome the limitations barrier, a petitioner
must show that his health condition is profound, United
States v. Sosa, 364 F.3d 507, 513 (4th Cir
2004) (citing Grant v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 163
F.3d 1136, 1138 (9th Cir. 1998)), and that it rendered him
incapable of filing a habeas application before the
limitations period expired. Allen v. Lewis, 255 F.3d
798 (9th Cir. 2001) (prisoner must show that the
extraordinary circumstances relied upon were the proximate
cause of his petition's untimeliness); Rhodes v.
Senkowski, 82 F.Supp.2d 160, 169-70 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)
(prisoner must show that medical condition rendered him
unable to pursue his rights during relevant time period);
see also Langley v. Director, No. 2:09cv436, 2010 WL
2483876, *7 (E.D. Va. 2010) (court must consider whether
petitioner was declared incompetent or was able to pursue
legal action during time of his alleged incapacity, and
whether the severity of symptoms and response to treatment
evince an inability to timely file a habeas corpus petition).
equitable tolling argument based on mental health issues
fails. He offers no specifics as to what, if any, mental
health disorders he suffered from and how they prevented him
from pursuing a timely federal habeas petition, as required
for equitable tolling. See Pace, 544 U.S.
at 418. Indeed, the state court records shows that he was
able to file various motions and petitions in the state court
over the past six years. He has failed to demonstrate any
ground on which equitable tolling applies. Johnson’s
petition for habeas corpus relief is time-barred under 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A-D) and shall be dismissed and
denied with prejudice.
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473 (2000), the Supreme
Court held that “[w]hen the district court denies a
habeas petition on procedural grounds without reaching the
prisoner's underlying constitutional claim, a COA
[certificate of appealability] should issue when the prisoner
shows, at least, that . . . jurists of reason would find it
debatable whether the district court was correct in its
procedural ruling.” Slack, ...