United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner Dafon Canty's
Petition for habeas corpus seeking relief under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 (2018). The Petition arises from his 2012
convictions in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City,
Maryland. (Compl., ECF No. 1). The Petition is ripe for
disposition and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For reasons that follow, the Court
will dismiss the Petition as time-barred.
was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree
assaults, and handgun offenses in January of 2012. (ECF No.
4-1). In March of 2012, He was sentenced to life
imprisonment, with all but 55 years suspended.
(Id.). On direct appeal his convictions were
affirmed by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland on
September 19, 2013. The Court of Special Appeals mandate was
issued on October 21, 2013. (ECF No. 4-2). Canty did not seek
further review on direct appeal. Therefore, his convictions
became final for direct appeal purposes on November 5, 2013.
See Md. Rule 8-302(a) (a petition for writ of
certiorari must be filed with the Court of Appeals within 15
days after the issuance of the Court of Special Appeals
seventeen months later, on April 29, 2015, Canty filed a
petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City. (ECF No. 3-1). The petition was denied by a
circuit court judge on September 20, 2016. (Id.).
Canty's application for leave to appeal the denial of
post-conviction relief was summarily denied on July 12, 2017.
The mandate was issued by the Court of Special Appeals on
August 11, 2017.
27, 2017, the Clerk received the instant Petition dated July
20, 2017 from Canty, who is incarcerated at the North Branch
Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. Based upon
the aforementioned timeline, Respondents were ordered to file
a Limited Answer to address the timeliness of the Petition
and Canty's claim for equitable tolling. (See
ECF No. 3). Respondents' Limited Answer was filed on
November 3, 2017. (ECF No. 4). Canty filed a Reply. (ECF No.
to Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), when filing a federal habeas corpus
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 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.
§2244(d). Canty's convictions became final for
purposes of direct appeal on November 5, 2013. The one-year
statute of limitation period ran uninterrupted from November
6, 2013 to April 28, 2015, approximately seventeen months,
during which there were no petitions for collateral review
pending. This Petition was plainly filed outside the
statutory one-year limitations period.
Petition, Canty acknowledges filing his Petition beyond the
one-year filing limitation, but seeks to excuse the delay,
arguing that the months before his post-conviction petition
was filed in circuit court should be equitably tolled. He
contends that he repeatedly contacted his post-conviction
counsel, voiced his concerns about stopping the federal
habeas corpus “clock” from expiring, and directed
him to file a post-conviction petition. Counsel did not file
a petition for post-conviction relief until April 29, 2015.
(ECF No. 1at 9-12 & ECF Nos. 1-4, ECF No. 1-5, ECF No.
1-7, ECF No. 1-8 & ECF No. 5 at 1-5, ECF No. 5-1).
certain circumstances the AEDPA's statute of limitations
may be subject to equitable tolling. See Holland v.
Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010); see also,
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 (1) 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 banc).
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, 560 U.S. at 649, (citing
Pace v. DiGulielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005)).
correctly observe that Canty's excuses are not sufficient
for the equitable tolling of the one-year limitation period
to apply. Canty's reliance on the purported delay of
counsel in filing his post-conviction petition does not
evince an extraordinary circumstance so as to equitably toll
the limitation period. Canty admits that he was aware of
habeas corpus filing deadlines, yet took no action to file a
self-represented “placeholder” post-conviction
petition or federal habeas corpus petition, despite knowing
of his counsel's delay.
upon review of Canty's arguments and attached exhibits,
the Court concludes that he has not shown that
post-conviction's counsel failed to satisfy professional
standards of care as to constitute “extraordinary
circumstances.” See Holland, 560 U.S. at 649;
Lanahan v. Md. Attorney Gen., AW-09-3325, 2010 WL
4513402, *1 (D.Md. 2010) (demands on Maryland Public
Defender's Collateral Review Division did not prevent
Defendant from filing an uncounseled post-conviction petition
so as to toll the federal limitations period under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(2)). Indeed, the correspondence between
counsel and Canty show that post-conviction counsel worked
conscientiously on the petition and amended petition to
ensure that Canty's proposals and arguments were
considered. In this case, Canty 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.
11(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases provides that
the district court “must issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the
applicant” in such cases. Because the accompanying
Order is a final order adverse to the applicant, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c)(1) requires issuance of a certificate of
appealability before an appeal can proceed.
certificate of appealability may issue if the prisoner has
made a “substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2).
When a district court rejects constitutional claims on the
merits, a petitioner satisfies the standard by demonstrating
that “reasonable jurists would find the district
court's assessment of the constitutional claims debatable
or wrong.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473,
484 (2000). When a petition is denied on procedural grounds,
the petitioner meets the standard with a showing that
reasonable jurists “would find it debatable whether the
petition states a valid claim of the denial of a