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Lee v. Warden

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 7, 2017

CHRISTIAN DARRELL LEE, Prisoner Identification No. 371696 2452455, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MARYLAND, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Christian Darrell Lee, currently confined at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland, has filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2254. The Petition challenges Lee's 2011 conviction in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland for first-degree murder and a related firearm offense. On March 2, 2016, Lee supplemented his Petition pursuant to an Order of this Court and filed a document entitled "Motion to Correct and Lift Unlawful and Illegal Detention, " which the Court construed as an attachment to the Petition. Respondents filed a Limited Answer to the Petition on June 8, 2016, seeking dismissal of the Petition on the basis that Lee's claims are time-barred. On August 10, 2016, the Court issued an Order granting Lee leave to file a Response to the Limited Answer to explain why his Petition is not time-barred. Lee has not done so. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition is dismissed as time-barred.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 18, 2008, Lee was convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland of first-degree murder and the use of a handgun during the commission of a violent crime or felony. Lee appealed the conviction, the judgment of conviction was reversed, and the matter was remanded for a new trial. See Lee v. State, 12 A.3d 1238, 1254 (Md. 2011).

         Lee entered a guilty plea on November 9, 2011. On December 9, 2011, the court sentenced Lee to life imprisonment, all but 40 years suspended, for the murder charge and 20 years of imprisonment on the firearm charge, to run concurrently. Lee did not file an appeal, so his conviction became final for purposes of direct review on January 9, 2012. See Md. Rule 8-204(b)(2) (requiring that an application for leave to appeal be filed in the Court of Special Appeals "within 30 days after entry of the judgment or order from which the appeal is sought").

         On April 17, 2012, Lee filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the circuit court, which was denied after a November 14, 2012 hearing. Lee's application for leave to appeal the decision, filed on January 11, 2013, was summarily denied by the Court of Special Appeals in an unreported opinion on November 14, 2013. The court's mandate issued on December 16, 2013. Where, as here, the Court of Special Appeals denies an application for leave to appeal, no further review is available. See Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. S 12-202 (West 2011).

         This Court received Lee's undated Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on December 17, 2015. Because the envelope in which the Petition was mailed was post-marked December 15, 2015, the Petition shall be deemed filed with this Court on that date. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270-76 (1988); United States v. Dorsey, 988 F.Supp. 917, 919-20 (D. Md. 1998) (holding that a petition shall be deemed to have been filed on the date it was deposited with prison authorities for mailing under the prison mailbox rule); see also United States v. McNeill, 523 F.App'x 979, 982-83 (4th Cir. 2013).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Petition

         In his Petition to this Court, Lee claims that he has been denied his right to effective assistance of trial counsel because counsel refused to raise the defense strategy that Lee wanted to present in order to prove his innocence, leaving him with the belief that his only alternative was to plead guilty. Respondents argue that the Petition is time-barred.

         II. Limitations Period

         A 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. S 2244(d) (2012). Section 2244(d) provides that:

(1) A I-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 ...

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