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Spence v. Stouffer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 11, 2018

DWAYNE SPENCE, Prisoner identification No. 283997,



         Dwayne Spence, a former inmate at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility in Sykesville, Maryland has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus challenging his confinement based on his conviction in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland of unauthorized removal of property and a firearm offense. Respondenss have filed a Limited Answer in which they assert that the Petition should be dismissed because Spence is no longer in custody and his claim is time-barred. Spence has filed a Reply in which he argues that the merits of his claims should nevertheless be addressed. Upon consideration of the submitted materials, the Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000); D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition is DISMISSED.


         On March 24, 2011, Spence was found guilty in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City of unauthorized removal of property and a handgun violation. Spence was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, which was deemed to have begun on January 23, 2009. After the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed his convictions, the Maryland Court of Appeals denied Spencess petition for a writ of certiorari on November 19, 2012. Spencess conviction thus became final for purposes of federal habeas review 90 days later, on February 19, 2013, the deadline for seeking review by the United States Supreme Court. See Sup. Ct. Rule 13.1.

         On March 4, 2013, Spence filed a state petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. That petition was dismissed on June 2, 2014 for lack of jurisdiction. Spence's application for leave to appeal the dismissal was denied on January 14, 2015, and the mandate issued on February 13, 2015. On June 8, 2015, Spence filed a petition for a writ of coram nobis, which was dismissed by the circuit court on September 29, 205.. Spence did not appeal the dismissal.


         Spencess Petition must be dismissed for two reasons. First, the Court may not consider the Petition because it was filed after Spence completed the sentence at issue. Federal habeas relief is available to a prisoner who is "in custody." 28 U.S.C. S 2254(a) (2012). The Supreme Court has held that this statutory language requires that a "habeas petitioner be 'in custody' under the conviction or sentence under attack at the time his petition is filed." Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 490-91 (1989); See Lackawanna Cly. Dist. Attorney v. Cross, 532 U.S. 394, 40--02 (2001) (stating that when the petitioner "is no longer serving the sentences imposed pursuant to his . . . convictions"" he "cannot bring a federal habeas petition directed solely at those convictions".. Here, Spence's seven-year sentence, which began to run on January 23, 2009, expired at the latest on January 23, 2016. Spence filed his Petition in this Court on May 18, 2017, well over a year after his sentence expired. Because Spence was not in custody on the sentence in question at the time he filed the Petition, it must be dismissed. See Maleng, 490 U.S. at 490-91. Spence's assertion that the claims should be considered by this Court because the state court did not consider them is without merit.

         Second, the Petition must be dismissed as time-barred. A one-year statute of limitations applies to federal habeas petitions in non-capital cases filed by a person convicted in state court. See 28 U.S.C. S 2244(d). Specifically:

(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 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 retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.
(2) the time during which a properly filed application for State postconviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward ...

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