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Scott v. Shartle

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 31, 2016

JASON SCOTT, Inmate Identification No. 50651-037, Petitioner,
v.
J.T. SHARTLE, FCC Warden, SUSAN G. McCLINTOCK, USP Warden, Tucson, AZ, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Jason Scott, an inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona ("USP-Tucson"), has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2254, two Motions for an Injunction, and a Motion for Reconsideration. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition is dismissed, the Motions for an Injunction are collectively construed as a new Complaint that shall be transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and the Motion for Reconsideration is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 20, 2016, Scott filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2254 in the District of Arizona. The Petition challenges Scott's September 25, 2013 conviction in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Prince Georgess County for murder in the first degree after the entry of a plea of guilty in which he maintained his innocence pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 37-39 (1970). On February 9, 2016, the District of Arizona transferred Scott's Petition, Motion to Toll AEDPAss One-Year Time Limit to File a Motion to Vacate Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2254, and other motions to the District of Maryland.

         This Court issued an Order on April 28, 2016 requiring Respondents ("the Government") to file an Answer to the Petition and denying several motions. Scott filed a Notice of Interlocutory Appeal from that Order. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed the interlocutory appeal on August 23, 2016, with the mandate issuing on October 17, 2016.

         The Government filed a Limited Answer to the Petition on June 7, 2016, seeking dismissal of the Petition based on the arguments that Scott failed to exhaust available state court remedies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2254(b) and that his claims are now time-barred. On June 24, 2016, Scott filed a Response to the Limited Answer. The Court ordered Scott to file a supplemental response specifically to present any evidence that his claims have been properly exhausted and that the Petition was timely filed. Scott filed such a supplemental response on July 8, 2016.

         In addition to the Petition, there are three motions currently pending before the Court. On July 5, 2016, Scott filed a Motion for an Injunction in which he complained about certain conditions of confinement at USP-Tucson. Scott then filed in the District of Arizona a Motion for an Injunction and a Motion for Reconsideration of the Motion to Vacate his Maryland conviction, which were then transferred to this Court on August 30, 2016. The two Motions for an Injunction articulate identical grounds for relief.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Petition

         Scott entered an Alford plea in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Prince George's County to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced on September 25, 2013 to life imprisonmen,, with 85 years to be served and the remainder suspended. Scott did not file a notice of appeal. Consequently, his judgment became final for purposes of direct review on October 25, 2013. See Md. Rule 8-204(b)(2) (providing that an application for leave to appeal must be filed within 30 days after the entry of judgment or order from which the appeal is sought). Scott has not filed any state post-conviction proceedings. In his Petition to this Court, Scott proclaims his innocence, but he does not specifically define his claims for reliefor provide grounds to challenge his plea.

         A. Exhaustion of State Court Remedies

         The Government argues that the Petition should be dismissed because Scott has not exhausted all available state court remedies. A petitioner seeking habeas relief in federal court must exhaust each claim by first pursuing the remedies available in state court. 28 U.S.C. S 2254(b)(1) (2012); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 510 (1982). This exhaustion requirement is satisfied by seeking review of the claim in the highest state court with jurisdiction to consider the claim. See 28 U.S.C. S 2254(c).

         For a person convicted of a criminal offense in Maryland, exhaustion may be accomplished either on direct appeal or in post-conviction proceedings. To exhaust a claim on direct appeal in non-capital cases, a defendant must assert it in an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland and then to the Court of Appeals of Maryland by way of a petition for a writ of certiorari. See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. SS 12-201, 12-301 (West 2011). To exhaust a claim through post-conviction proceedings, a defendant must assert it in a petition filed in the Circuit Court where the inmate was convicted within 10 years of the date of sentencing. See Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. SS 7-101 to -103 (West 2011). After a decision on a petition, further review is available through an application for leave to appeal filed with the Court of Special Appeals. Id. S 7-109. If the Court of Special Appeals denies the application, there is no further review available and the claim is exhausted. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. S 12-202. However, if the application is granted but relief on the merits of the claim is denied, a petitioner must file a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals. See Williams v. State, 438 A.2d 1301, 1304-05 (Md. 1981).

         Scott did not file a direct appeal, and the time for. doing so has long since expired. The 10-year time limit for filing a post-conviction petition in state court to challenge his 2013 conviction and sentence, however, has not yet expired. Because Scott has yet to exhaust his state remedies before the highest court with jurisdiction to consider the ...


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