United States District Court, D. Maryland
.Frederick Motz United States District Judge.
Aaron Nathaniel Hines ("Hines") seeks habeas corpus
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2254, attacking his 2011
convictions in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's
County.ECF No. .. Respondents' unopposed
limited answer to the petition remains pending. ECF Nos. 6 &
7. 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. S 2254(e)(2).. For
reasons to follow the petition shall be dismissed as
and Procedural History
August 16, 2011, Hines pled guilty to conspiracy to possess
narcotics with the intent to distribute and received an
aggregate sentence of 20 years, with all but 18 months
suspended. Hines did not seek leave to appeal this
conviction. ECF No. 5-1. Therefore, his
conviction became final for direct appeal purposes on
September 15, 20I1. See Md. Code. Ann., Cts. &
Jud. Proc. S 12-302(e)(2) (review of a judgment following a
guilty plea -'shall be sought by application for leave to
appeal"); Md. Rule 8-204 (application for leave to
appeal must "be filed within 30 days after entry of the
judgment or order from which the appeal is sought").
November 28, 2011, Hines filed a counseled
motion for modification of sentence. On December 22, 2011,
the circuit court granted Hines's motion and amended his
sentence to recommend home detention. On September 15, 20I5,
Hines filed a self-represented petition for post-conviction
relief in the circuit court. On February 19,
2016, Hines filed a counseled petition for
post-conv1Ction relief. On April 4, 2016, Circuit
Court Judge Paul M. Bowman denied postconviction relief.
Hines did not seek leave to appeal. ECF No.
5-1. Hines's 28 U.S.C. S 2254 petition
was received for filing on January 12,
to Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
("AEDPA",, when filing a federal habeas corpus
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 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.
g2244(d).Hines's convictions became final for
purposes of direct appeal on September 15, 201I. The one-year
statute of limitation period ran unchecked for approximately
forty-four months, from December 22, 2011,
to September 15, 2015, during which there were no petitions
for collateral review pending. This petition was plainly
filed outside the statutory one-year limitations period.
petition, Hines argues that he was ignorant of the one-year
statute of limitations period and only became aware of errors
when he reviewed his criminal case after his post conviction
petition. ECF No. I, p. 5 at §14.
true that under certain circumstances the AEDPA's statute
of limitations may be subject to equitable tolling. See
Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010), 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). The Fourth Circuit has consistently held that a
party seeking to avail itself of equitable tolling must show
that (I) 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 bane). 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
(20I0), citing Pace v. DiGulielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418
correctly observe that Hines's excuses do not prompt the
equitable tolling of the one-year limitation period under the
law. Legal inexperience is not a justification for equitable
tolling. See United States v. Sosa, 364 F.3d 507,
512 (4th Cir. 2004) (stating that ignorance of the law is not
a basis for equitable tolling); Cross-Bey v. Gammon,
322 F.3d 1012, 1215 (8th Cir. 2003) ("Even in the case
of an unrepresented prisoner alleging a lack of legal
knowledge or legal resources, equitable tolling has not been
warranted.") (internal quotations omitted); Felder
v. Johnson, 204 F.3d 168, 171-73 (5th Cir. 2000) (lack
of notice of AEDPA amendments and ignorance of the law are
not rare and exceptional circumstances that warrant equitable
tolling). In this case, however, Hines has neither asserted,
nor do the pleadings suggest, any circumstances that justify
equitable tolling. Accordingly, the petition will be denied
and dismissed with prejudice by separate Order.
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.
Hines does not satisfy this standard, and the court declines
to issue a certificate of appealability.
Hines asks that the name of respondent
Warden be changed to reflect the correct name of the Warden
at the Eastern Correctional Institution. ECF No.4. The Clerk
shall amend the docket to substitute the name ...