United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.
January 24, 2016, Petitioner Victor Angel Torres. filed the
instant 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus application attacking
his 1992 convictions. ECF 1. He subsequently filed a Court
directed Supplemental Petition. ECF 3. On April 29, 2016,
Respondents filed an Answer which solely addresses the
timeliness of Torres' application. ECF 6. Torres was
advised of his opportunity to file a reply. ECF 7. The Court
is in receipt of Torres' Response. ECF 8.
was convicted by the Circuit Court for Wicomico County,
Maryland of first degree murder and malicious destruction of
property. ECF 1, ECF 3-1, ECF 6-1. In April of 1992, Torres
was sentenced to life imprisonment. Id. Torres noted
a timely appeal. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, in
an unreported opinion filed on February 3, 1993, upheld
Torres' conviction. Id. Torres did not seek
further review of his conviction and sentence. His judgment
of conviction thus became final in 1993.
19, 2000, Torres first began to collaterally attack his
conviction. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief
which was denied on March 30, 2001. ECF-1. Torres did not
file an application for leave to appeal the denial of
post-conviction relief. Id. Thereafter, on June 9,
2003, he moved to reopen the closed post-conviction
proceedings. The motion was granted and the post-conviction
proceedings were reopened and ultimately concluded on
November 13, 2003, when the post-conviction court denied
relief. Id. Torres' application for leave to
appeal the denial of post-conviction relief was denied by the
Court of Special Appeals on June 22, 2004. The court's
mandate issued on July 23, 2004.
2008, Torres again moved to reopen his state post-conviction
proceedings. The motion was denied on February 25, 2009. His
application for leave to appeal was denied on May 27, 2010;
the court's mandate issued on June 28, 2010. Id.
next filed, what was construed as, a motion to correct
illegal sentence on June 15, 2011. The motion was denied on
September 26, 2011. The Court of Specials affirmed the denial
of the motion on August 10, 2015, The court's mandate
issued on September 9, 2015. Id.
April 24, 1996 President Clinton signed the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") of 1996 into
law. Among the changes made by this law was the addition of a
one year statute of limitations in non-capital cases for
persons convicted in a state court. Although the statute is
silent as to how it should be applied to persons like Torres
whose convictions were finalized before April 24, 1996, it
was later clarified that such persons had one year from the
effective date, i.e., until April 24, 1997, to file a
petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court. This one
year period is, however, tolled while properly filed
post-conviction proceedings are pending. 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(2); Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 328
(4th Cir. 2000); Hernandez, 225 F.3d at 439 (4th
Cir. 2000). Torres had no proceedings pending from the
effective date of AEDPA until June 19, 2000, when he
instituted state post-conviction proceedings. As such, the
statute of limitations to file his federal habeas petition
expired on April 24, 1997, long before Torres instituted
state post-conviction proceedings.
Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S.631 (2010), the Supreme
Court concluded that equitable tolling applies to the
AEDPA's statute of limitations. Id. at 633.
Specifically, the Court found that in order to be entitled to
equitable tolling, the movant must show (1) that he has
diligently pursued his rights and (2) that some extraordinary
circumstance prevented the timely filing. Id. at
649. The question of whether equitable tolling applies hinges
on the facts and circumstances of each particular case.
See Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325,
329-30 (4th Cir. 2000).
offers no arguments in favor of equitable tolling.
Torres' pro se status and any attendant lack of knowledge
of the law is not the type of extraordinary circumstance
which would justify equitable tolling. See
Barrow v. New Orleans S.S. Ass'n, 932 F.2d 473,
478 (5th Cir. 1991) (refusing to apply equitable tolling
where the delay in filing was the result of petitioner's
unfamiliarity with the legal process or his lack of legal
representation); Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d 238, 248-249
(4th Cir. 2003) (negligent mistake by party's counsel in
interpreting AEDPA statute of limitations does not present
extraordinary circumstances warranting equitable tolling);
Smith v. McGinnis, 208 F.3d 13, 18 (2nd Cir. 2000) (
pro se status does not establish sufficient ground
for equitable tolling); Felder v. Johnson, 204 F.3d
168, 171-173 (5th Cir. 2000) (lack of notice of AEDPA
amendments and ignorance of the law are not rare and
exceptional circumstances that warrant equitable tolling);
Francis v. Miller, 198 F.Supp.2d 232, 235 (E.D. N.Y.
2002) (ignorance of the law and legal procedure is not so
exceptional as to merit equitable tolling). Therefore, the
Petition shall be dismissed as time-barred under 28 U.S.C. §
the amendments to Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing
Proceedings under Section 2254 "the district court must
issue or deny a certificate of appealability when it enters a
final order adverse to the applicant... If the court issues a
certificate, the court must state the specific issue or
issues that satisfy the showing required by 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2)." In 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, 529 U.S. at 484.
Torres does not satisfy this standard, and the Court declines
to issue a certificate of appealability as required under the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Petitions in the United States
District Courts. A separate Order follows.
 The Petition, received on February 5,
2016, is dated January 25, 2016 and is deemed filed on that
date. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266
Ballard, 2010 WL 3061482 (N.D. W.Va. 2010) (holding
Fourth Circuit's test for equitable tolling, as set forth
in Harris, remains virtually ...