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Pierce v. Foxwell

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

May 10, 2018

STEVIE PIERCE, #364760, Petitioner,
v.
RIOCEY FOXWELL, et al., Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Stevie Pierce. an inmate confined at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover. Maryland, has filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ S 2254. ECF NO.1. No hearing is necessary. Loe. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2(16.. For reasons set forth below. the Petition shall be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 4. 2017. the Court received Pierce's self-represented Petition tor Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Petition was signed on August 2. 2017. 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 F. App'x. 979. 983 (4th Cir. 2013:; United States v. Dorsey. 988 F.Supp. 917.999-20 (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 Pierce's 2010 conviction in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for distribution of heroin. On August I1. 2017. the Court issued an Order requiring Respondents to tile an answer to the Petition within forty days and granted Pierce thirty days to file a reply. ECF NO.3. Respondents filed a Limited Answer to the Petition on September 12.2017. seeking dismissal of the Petition premised on the argument that Pierce's claims arc time-barred. ECF No. 4. Pierce has filed a Reply. ECF NO.5.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Petition and Limitations Period

         According to the state court docket. Pierce pled guilty to the distribution of heroin. ECF NO.4-.. Pursuant to the plea agreement., on or about August 23. 20IO. he was sentenced to a 28-year term. No appeal was filed. However. Pierce filed a motion for modification of sentence on or about February 7. 2012. and his term was reduced to 20 years by Judge Lynn K. Stewart on January 23. 2013. Id . As he did not seek leave to appeal from his new sentence. Respondents argue his criminal judgment became final tor direct appeal purposes as of February 22. 2013. See Md. Rule 8-204 (application for leave to appeal must "be tiled within 30 days after entry of the judgment or order from which the appeal is sought"..

         On November 15. 2013. Pierce filed a self~represented post-conviction petition in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. On September 9.2015. Circuit Court Judge Pamela J. White denied post-conviction relief. ECF NO.4-.. Pierce's application for leave to appeal this decision was summarily denied by the Court of Special Appeals for Maryland on September 27. 2016. ECF No. 4-2. The mandate was issued on February 7. 2017. Id.

         Respondents contend that the Petition is untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2.. When affording his time-line a generous construction, they assert that Pierce's conviction became final for direct appeal purposes on February 22. 2013. More than eight months passed before Pierce filed his post-conviction petition on November 15. 2013. In addition, more than five months passed between the issuance of the mandate denying Pierce's application for leave to appeal the denial of his post-conviction petition (February 7. 2017) and his filing of this Petition for habeas corpus relief (August 2. 2017.. During this combined 13-month period there were no pending collateral proceedings in state court to toll the § 2244(d) limitations period.

         In his Reply, Pierce argues that his Petition is not untimely. He contends that on August 23. 00I0 he was sentenced to 28 years and the sentence was reduced to 20 years on January 23. 2013. based upon the grant of his motion for modification of sentence. ECF NO.5. lie contends that his judgment did not become final as of February 22. 2013. because he was allowed to reopen his post-conviction petition on December 17.2055 in order to file an application for leave to appeal., Id.

         A. Limitations 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 I-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 ...

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