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Jackson v. Graham

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 7, 2017

JEFF JACKSON, #348236 a/k/a GARY JONES Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD J. GRAHAM, WARDEN, et al. Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Jeff Jackson, an inmate now confined at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland, filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. 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. § 2254(e)(2)). For reasons set forth below, the Petition is denied and dismissed as time-barred.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 18, 2015, Jackson filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The petition is dated February 7, 2015, 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 mailbox” rule.)

         The Petition challenges Jackson's 2008 conviction in the Circuit Court for Cecil County for possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. Respondents have filed a court-ordered Answer seeking dismissal of the Petition premised on the argument that Jackson's claims are time-barred. Jackson has filed a reply.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Petition

         A jury sitting in the Circuit Court for Cecil County found Jackson guilty of one count of possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. ECF No. 4-1 & ECF No. 4-2. Jackson filed a direct appeal to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. Id. On April 16, 2010, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed Jackson's conviction. The mandate was issued on May 17, 2010. ECF No. 4-2. On August 23, 2010, the Court of Appeals of Maryland denied Jackson's petition for a writ of certiorari. He did not file a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court. Therefore, his judgment of conviction became final on or about November 22, 2010, 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).

         Twenty-nine months later, on April 22, 2013, Jackson filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Cecil County. A post-conviction hearing was held on January 17, 2014. The petition was denied on October 1, 2014. The Circuit Court further denied Jackson's post-judgment motion and his motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings. ECF No. 4-1. According to Respondent, Jackson's application for leave to appeal the denial of post-conviction relief remains pending. The updated state docket shows that the Court of Special Appeals mandate was issued on February 11, 2016.

         In his Petition to this Court, Jackson claims he has been denied his right to effective assistance of trial counsel because counsel: failed to raise objections to the trial court's erroneous reasonable doubt instruction and the trial court's failure to give an “advisory only” jury instruction, failed to preserve Jackson's objection to the racial composition of the jurors, and failed to specify Jackson's request to voir dire the jurors about their religious beliefs. Jackson additionally claims that post-conviction counsel failed to: produce material eye witnesses, properly articulate the issues supporting Jackson's claims, request a “mere presence” jury instruction, and argue that Brady errors supported Jackson's actual innocence. ECF No. 1.

         A. Limitations Period

         Respondents argue that the Petition is time-barred. Jackson's conviction became final on November 22, 2010, and the one-year statute of limitations period expired on November 22, 2011. Respondents argue that because Jackson had no post-conviction or other collateral proceeding pending in state court during that time period, there was no tolling of the limitation 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. § 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 direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was ...

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