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Mitchell v. Green

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 11, 2017

WILLIAM JAMES MITCHELL, #331132, Petitioner
v.
WARDEN KATHLEEN S. GREEN., et al., Respondents

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this habeas action is the limited question whether Petitioner's application pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 was filed within the applicable statute of limitations.

         On July 17, 2013, [1] the court received the 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus application filed by Petitioner William James Mitchell, attacking his 2005 judgments of conviction for attempted first degree murder and related offenses. ECF No. 1. He raises several issues, including whether the trial judge's failure to recuse himself violated Petitioner's right to testify and to a fair trial in contravention of the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and whether his attorneys provided ineffective representation by failing to move that the trial judge recuse himself, by putting forth a defense theory of the case that trial counsel knew was not supported by the evidence, and by failing to object to the admission of highly prejudicial evidence for which a proper foundation had not been laid.

         Instead of responding to the petition in full, Respondents filed a limited answer on October 2, 2013, raising only the statute of limitations. ECF No. 6. On November 19, 2013, Mitchell filed a reply. ECF No. 11. Following appointment of counsel, a telephone conference was held on June 2, 2015, after which the court approved the parties' joint briefing schedule. ECF No. 20. The schedule was adjusted, and supplemental briefs were filed.

         On October 16, 2015, the court granted the parties' joint motion to stay proceedings pending the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Woodfolk v. Maynard, No. 15-6364. ECF Nos. 24; 25. The Fourth Circuit issued its opinion on May 23, 2017. See Woodfolk v. Maynard, 857 F.3d 531 (4th Cir. 2017). The appellate court's mandate was issued on June 14, 2017.

         On June 27, 2017, the court lifted the stay and approved the parties' proposed supplemental briefing schedule. ECF No. 28. Respondents filed their supplemental answer on August 20, 2017. ECF No. 29. Mitchell filed his supplemental reply on September 6, 2017. ECF No. 30. After reviewing the filings, 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; 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 the reasons set forth herein, the court will dismiss the petition as untimely, but grant a certificate of appealability.

         Factual and Procedural History

         On June 13, 2005, following a jury trial, Mitchell was found guilty in the Circuit Court for Harford County of attempted first degree murder and related offenses. ECF No. 1, pp. 1-2; ECF No. 6-1, pp. 15-16. He did not testify at trial. ECF No. 1, p. 2. Mitchell was sentenced on October 24, 2005, to a total of 70 years imprisonment. ECF Nos. 1, pp. 1-2; 6-1, p. 17.

         Mitchell timely appealed his convictions and sentence to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, which, in an unreported opinion issued on July 27, 2007, affirmed Mitchell's convictions, but vacated one of his sentences and remanded the case to the circuit court for resentencing. ECF Nos. 1, p. 2; 6-1, p. 19; 6-2, p. 26. The Court of Special Appeals' mandate was issued on August 27, 2007. ECF Nos. 6-1, pp. 19-20; 6-2, p. 27. Mitchell then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, which granted the petition on November 7, 2007. ECF Nos. 1, p. 3; 6-1, pp. 20-21; 6-3, p. 1. After the case had been briefed and argued, however, on March 12, 2008, the Court of Appeals dismissed the writ, finding that it had been improvidently granted. ECF Nos. 1, p. 3; 6-3, p. 4. Mitchell did not seek further review. ECF No. 1, p. 3.

         On June 1, 2009, Mitchell filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in the Circuit Court for Harford County. ECF Nos. 1, p. 4; 6-1, p. 22. At a hearing held on July 22, 2009, the circuit court resolved both the motion to correct an illegal sentence and complied with the Court of Special Appeals' remand. ECF Nos. 1, p. 4; 6-1, p. 22. Mitchell was resentenced to 65 years imprisonment. ECF Nos. 1, p. 4; 6-1, p. 22. He did not appeal the new judgment, which became final for direct appeal purposes on August 21, 2009. See Md. Rule 8-202 (requiring that notice of appeal be filed within 30 days of date of judgment from which review is sought).

         On September 2, 2009, Mitchell filed a motion for modification/reduction of sentence pursuant to Md. Rule 4-345(e)[2] which, at Mitchell's request, was held in abeyance. ECF Nos. 1, p. 4; 6-2, p. 22; 23-1. On February 3, 2010, Mitchell filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Harford County. ECF Nos. 1, p. 4; 6-1, p. 23. After conducting a hearing, the court denied the petition on November 3, 2010. ECF Nos. 1, p. 5; 1-12; 6-1, p. 24. On December 2, 2010, Mitchell filed an application for leave to appeal the denial, which the Court of Special Appeals summarily denied on December 19, 2011. ECF Nos. 1, p. 5; 6-1, p. 24; 6-4, pp. 1-2. The court's mandate was issued on January 19, 2012. ECF No. 6-4, p. 3.

         On September 20, 2012, Mitchell requested that the circuit court activate proceedings on his motion for modification/reduction of sentence. ECF Nos. 1, p. 8; 6-1, p. 25. The court denied the motion on October 1, 2012. ECF Nos. 1, p. 8; 6-1, p. 25.

         As noted above, the current Petition was received by this court on July 17, 2013. ECF No. 1.

         Timeliness

         The threshold issue in this case is the timeliness of the Petition. 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)(1); Wall v. Kholi, 562 U.S. 545, 550 (2011). 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 prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made ...

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