United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
April 7, 2016,  Petitioner Melvin Peterson filed this 28
U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition attacking his 2008
convictions for sexual abuse of a minor and second degree
rape. ECF No. 1. On July 6, 2016, Respondents filed a limited
answer arguing that the petition should be dismissed as
untimely. ECF No. 3. Pursuant to Hill v. Braxton,
277 F.3d 701 (4th Cir. 2002), the Court afforded Peterson an
opportunity to explain why his petition should not be
dismissed as time-barred, ECF No. 4, and Peterson
subsequently filed a Response, ECF No. 7.
matter has been fully briefed. Upon review, the Court finds
no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a),
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts; Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016); see
also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000)
(petitioner not entitled to hearing under 28 U.S.C. §
pleaded guilty in the Montgomery County Circuit Court to
sexual abuse of a minor and second degree rape. ECF No. 1 at
1. On November 6, 2008, he was sentenced to 30 years'
imprisonment. Id. Peterson did not file a direct
appeal. Id. at 2.
November 20, 2008, Peterson filed a Motion for
Reconsideration or Modification of Sentence (hereinafter,
“Sentencing Motion”), which the circuit court
placed in abeyance. ECF No. 3-1 at 13-14. On September 18,
2012, Peterson moved for the circuit court to hold a hearing
on his Sentencing Motion. Id. at 15. On October 26,
2012, the circuit court denied Peterson's Motion for a
Hearing on the Motion for Modification of Sentence.
Id. at 15. However, it is not clear if or when the
circuit court ultimately ruled on the Sentencing Motion
itself. In any event, the Sentencing Motion was rendered a
nullity on November 6, 2013, five years after the date the
sentence was imposed. See Md. Rule 4-345(e)(1)
(“[T]he court has revisory power over the sentence
except that it may not revise the sentence after the
expiration of five years from the date the sentence
originally was imposed on the defendant[.]”).
November 7, 2012, Peterson filed a Motion for Post-Conviction
Relief (“PCR Motion”) in the Montgomery County
Circuit Court. Id. Peterson reports that he raised
the following grounds: “ineffective assistance of
counsel; knowing and intelligent waiver; illegal sentence;
judge's failure to ‘determine and announce' on
record according to Md. Rule 4-242(c).” Id.
Peterson's PCR Motion was denied on February 12, 2014.
Id. at 3. In June 2014, Petitioner successfully
requested that the Montgomery County Circuit Court re-file
the opinion denying relief in order to allow Petitioner to
file a timely appeal. ECF No. 3-1 at 18. On June 27, 2014,
Petitioner filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal with the
Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which denied his Petition
on December 15, 2014. ECF No. 1 at 2-3. The court's
mandate issued on January 14, 2015. ECF No. 3-1 at 26.
filed the instant Petition for Habeas Corpus Relief pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on April 7, 2016. ECF No. 1 at 19.
Peterson raises seven grounds for habeas corpus relief, and
reports that he presented all seven grounds in his PCR
Motion. Id. at 4-17. In response to the § 2254
form's question about the timeliness of the petition,
Due to the obstacles in obtaining the necessary documents
and, especially, legal assistance necessary to file a §
2254 habeas corpus, the filing deadline has elapsed. It has
been exceptionally difficult-especially and specifically
because of being housed in this particular institution-to
proceed with any pro se legal work, and more often then [sic]
not litigants experience difficulty in filing time-sensitive
Id. at 18 (emphasis omitted).
filed a limited answer asserting that Peterson's §
2254 Petition should be dismissed as untimely under §
2244(d). ECF No. 3 at 1-2, 4-5. Among other arguments,
Respondents note that:
Peterson's post conviction proceedings became final on
January 14, 2015. Peterson did not file his underlying
petition until April 7, 2016. See ECF No. 1. Between
January 14, 2015, and April 7, 2016, a period of over 14
months expired where there were no proceedings pending in
state court that would have tolled the Section 2244(d)
Id. at 5. Additionally, Respondents assert that
delays attributable to Peterson's lack of legal knowledge
alone are not entitled to be equitably tolled. Id.
Court afforded Peterson an opportunity to explain why his
petition should not be dismissed as time-barred, ECF No. 4,
and he responded, ECF No. 7, arguing that he “has been
left, for all intents and purposes, to fend for himself at
every state from trial up until the filing of a writ of
habeas corpus, with minimal or no counsel whatsoever.”
ECF No. 7 at 2 (emphasis omitted). Peterson also notes that
he has faced “administrative hindrances” in