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Hillman v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

November 17, 2017

ROMEO JOSEPH HILLMAN, #59023-037, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Romeo Joseph Hillman, an inmate at FCI Petersburg Low. filed a Motion to Vacate. Set Aside, or Correct Sentence. ECF No. 49.[1] challenging his 2016 guilty plea and sentencing for distribution of child pornography. Respondent United States of America argues that the Motion is time-barred, as it was not filed within a year of his conviction. ECF No. 51 at 2.[2] Hillman argues that his claim is not time-barred because he is entitled to equitable tolling of his time limitation. FCF No. 52 at 2. No hearing is necessary to resolve this case. Loc. Rule 1 05.6. (D. Md. 2016); see also Rule 8 of the Rules Governing §2255 Proceedings. For the reasons set forth herein, the Motion will be denied as time-barred, and a certificate of appealability will not issue.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 4. 2016. Hillman pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(2). ECF No. 25. On April 20. 2016. the Court sentenced Hillman to 114 months of imprisonment followed by lifetime supervised release. ECF No. 43. Hillman did not appeal.

         On July 14, 2017. Hillman filed the pending Motion to Vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, [3] received by the Clerk on July 19. 2017. ECF No. 49. On July 21. 2017. this Court ordered Respondent to respond, and provided Hillman an opportunity to reply to that response. ECF No. 50. In their Response, the United States argues that Hillman's Motion to Vacate was filed outside the one-year limitations period and thus is time-barred. ECF No. 51 at 2. In his Reply. Hillman argues that his Motion is subject to statutory and equitable tolling. Specifically, he argues that the one-year limitation should be tolled because for part of that year he was placed in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU") following the death of his cell mate. ECF No. 52 at 1. he experienced the death of his grandfather, id, and he had limited access to the law library for two months following his sentencing, id. at 2.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A one-year statute of limitations applies to § 2255 petitions. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). The limitations period runs from the latest of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final:
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action:
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review: or
(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

Id. The one-year period may be equitably tolled. See Whiteside v. United Slates. 775 F.3d 180. 184 (4th Cir. 2014) (en banc) (applying equitable tolling to the one-year limitation period in 28 U.S.C. §2255) (quoting Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d 238. 246 (4th Cir. 2003) (en banc)).

         III. ...


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