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Savoy v. Bishop

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 15, 2017

TRACY A. SAVOY, Petitioner,
v.
FRANK BISHOP, WARDEN, NORTH BRANCH CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, et al., Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROGER W. TITUS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Tracy A. Savoy (“Savoy”) filed in this Court a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”) on March 1, 2013.[1] ECF No. 1. Savoy challenges his 2004 convictions in two separate cases in the Circuit Court for Charles County, Maryland, alleging that his sentences were illegal pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-243(c) and (d). Id. at 1-6. The threshold issue in this case is whether the one-year limitations period under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) was tolled by his Motions to Reconsider Sentence filed in state court.

         Upon review of the pleadings, the Court finds no need for a hearing. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2); Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, the Petition will be dismissed and a Certificate of Appealability will not issue.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         a. Savoy's Actions in State Court

         On April 6, 2004, Savoy entered guilty pleas in two separate cases before the Circuit Court for Charles County, Maryland: Case Nos. 08-K-03-000719 and 08-K-03-001262. ECF No. 1-1 at 1. Savoy pled guilty to attempted first-degree murder, use of a handgun in a commission of a felony, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon. Id. He was sentenced on June 15, 2004, to (1) life imprisonment, with all but thirty years suspended, for attempted first-degree murder; (2) twenty years for use of a handgun in a commission of a felony, to run concurrently with the life sentence; and (3) twenty years for conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon, to run concurrently with the other sentences. Id. at 2. Savoy did not file a direct appeal. ECF No. 1 at 3. Therefore, his convictions became final for direct review purposes on July 15, 2004. See Md. Rule 8-204(b)(2) (requiring application for leave to appeal to be “filed within 30 days after the entry of the judgment or order from which the appeal is sought.”).

         Although Savoy did not directly appeal the judgments, he did timely file Motions to Reconsider Sentence, as well as Applications for Review of Sentence, in both cases on June 29, 2004, and July 12, 2004, respectively. ECF Nos. 6-1 at 13; 6-2 at 12. After reviewing the Applications for Review of Sentence, the Circuit Court affirmed both of Savoy's sentences. ECF Nos. 6-1 at 14; 6-2 at 12. No action was taken on the Motions to Reconsider Sentence. See ECF Nos. 6-1; 6-2.

         While Savoy filed petitions for post-conviction relief in 2010 in the state court, the Court need not address these filings because they are not dispositive of the threshold issue of whether Savoy's Motions to Reconsider Sentence filed in 2004 tolled the one-year limitations period required by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).

         b. Savoy's Petition in Federal Court

         In his Petition filed on March 1, 2013, Savoy argued that his sentence was illegal pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-243(c) and (d). ECF No. 1 at 6. On June 6, 2013, Respondents filed a Limited Answer to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Order to Show Cause [ECF No. 6], arguing that the Petition was time-barred and should be dismissed on that basis. ECF No. 6 at 1-2. Savoy filed a “Traverse to the Answer”-which the Court will construe as a reply-where he asserted that the Petition was timely because the one-year limitations period required by § 2244(d)(1) was tolled pursuant to § 2244(d)(2) during the pendency of his Motions to Reconsider Sentence filed in 2004. ECF No. 7 at 3-6.

         On July 12, 2013, the Court directed Respondents to supplement their Limited Answer to address whether Savoy's Motions to Reconsider Sentence in state court constituted properly filed state post-conviction proceedings which served to statutorily toll the limitations period required by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). ECF No. 11. Respondents filed a Supplemental Answer [ECF No. 12], contending that the Motions to Reconsider Sentence did not constitute properly filed state post-conviction proceedings and that the limitations period, therefore, was not tolled. ECF No. 12 at 1.

         The Court stayed this case on October 29, 2015, noting that “[s]imilar questions concerning when a motion [for reconsideration of sentence] is a ‘properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review' for tolling purposes under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2)” were also under consideration in Mitchell v. Green, , DKC-13-2063 (D. Md.) and Wells v. Wolfe, CCB-14-985 (D. Md.). ECF No. 20. Those cases were stayed pending a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Woodfolk v. Maynard,, No. 15-6364 (4th Cir.). Woodfolk presented the question, inter alia, whether a motion for reduction or modification of a sentence in state court served to toll the one-year limitations period that applies to § 2254 petitions. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued its decision in Woodfolk on May 23, 2017, without reaching that question. Woodfolk, 857 F.3d 531 (4th Cir. 2017). On July 20, 2017, this Court lifted the stay in this action. ECF No. 26. Accordingly, the case is now ripe for decision.

         II. Legal Standard

         The threshold issue in this case is whether Savoy's 2004 Motions to Reconsider Sentence filed in state court tolled the one-year limitations period under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Only if the Petition ...


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