United States District Court, D. Maryland
SATURIO GROGRIEO FIELDS, JR. #319142 Petitioner,
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Saturio Grogrieo Fields, Jr., an inmate confined at the North
Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, has
filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. For reasons set forth below, the Petition is
denied and dismissed as time-barred.
October 28, 2016, Fields filed a self-represented, fee-paid
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. The petition is dated October 25, 2016, and
shall be deemed filed as of that date. See Houston v.
Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270-76 (1988); United States v.
McNeill, 523 Fed.Appx. 979, 983 (4th Cir. 2013);
United States v. Dorsey, 988 F.Supp. 917, 919-920
(D. Md. 1998) (holding a petition shall be deemed to have
been filed on the date it was deposited with prison
authorities for mailing under the ''prison
Petition challenges Fields' 2004 convictions in the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County on first-degree
murder and two counts of first-degree assault. On November 4,
2016, the Court issued an Order requiring Respondent to file
a Limited Answer to the Petition within forty-five days and
granted Fields twenty-eight days to file a reply. Respondents
filed a Limited Answer to the Petition on December 15, 2016,
seeking dismissal of the Petition premised on the argument
that Fields' claims are time-barred. Fields has not filed
sitting in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County
found Fields guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree
assault (two counts). ECF No. 3-1. On February 27, 2004, the
court (Judge James J. Lombardi) sentenced Fields to life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole on the murder
offense. Fields was additionally sentenced to two consecutive
20-year sentences for each of his first-degree assault
convictions. Fields filed an application for panel review of
sentence that was denied on April 14, 2004. He filed a motion
for reconsideration of sentence that was denied on May 17,
unreported opinion filed on May 25, 2005, the Court of
Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed Fields' convictions
and sentences. He sought further review in the Court of
Appeals of Maryland and the Court of Appeals remanded the
case back to the Court of Special Appeals for reconsideration
in light of Bernadyn v. State, 390 Md. 1, 887 A.2d
602 (2005). The intermediate appellate court again
affirmed Fields' convictions. Fields sought review in the
Court of Appeals, which affirmed his convictions in a
reported opinion dated December 8, 2006. ECF No. 3-2.
Consequently, his judgment of conviction became final for
purposes of direct appeal ninety days later on March 12,
2007, when the 90-day period for filing a petition for writ
of certiorari with the Supreme Court expired. See
Supreme Court Rule 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).
seven years later, on February 24, 2014, Fields filed a
counseled petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit
Court for Prince George's County. A post-conviction
hearing was held on June 4, 2015, and on August 14, 2015, the
Circuit Court denied post-conviction relief. ECF No. 3-1.
Fields' application for leave to appeal this adverse
ruling was summarily denied by the Court of Special Appeals
in an unreported opinion filed on September 9, 2016. ECF No.
argues that Fields' Petition is untimely as his
convictions became final for direct appeal purposes on March
12, 2007 and more than six years expired before he initiated
post-conviction proceedings on February 14, 2014. Fields
offers no reply to argue equitable tolling.
one-year statute of limitations applies to habeas petitions
in non-capital cases for a person convicted in state court.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Section 2244(d) provides that:
(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. The
limitation period shall run from the latest of-(A) the date
on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of