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Coleman v. Foxwell

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 29, 2019

MICHAEL I. COLEMAN, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN R. FOXWELL, et al., Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Petitioner Michael I. Coleman's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (ECF No. 1). The Petition is ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) (2018). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the Petition as time-barred.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 16, 2014, Coleman was charged by criminal information with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) (heroin) with intent to distribute, simple possession of CDS (heroin), simple possession of CDS (marijuana), and possession of CDS paraphernalia in the Circuit Court for Kent County, Maryland. (Resp'ts' Ltd. Ans. Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus [“Ltd. Ans.”] Ex. 1 [“State Record”] at 19-22, ECF No. 6-1). On January 14, 2015, a jury convicted Coleman on all four counts. (See id. at 10). On March 27, 2015, the Circuit Court sentenced Coleman to twenty years of incarceration for possession of heroin with intent to distribute and one year, concurrent, for possession of marijuana. (Ltd. Ans. Ex. 4 at 24-26, ECF No. 6-4).

         On April 1, 2015, Coleman appealed his convictions to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, (State Record at 10), and filed a Motion for Reduction of Sentence pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-345(e) in Circuit Court, (id. at 10, 23-24). The Circuit Court denied Coleman's motion on or about May 14, 2015. (See id. at 201). While his direct appeal was pending, on April 20, 2015, Coleman also filed an application for review of sentence by a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-344. (Id. at 10). On June 30, 2015, the three-judge panel issued an order that left Coleman's sentence unchanged. (Id. at 9). On March 8, 2016, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed Coleman's convictions, with the mandate issuing on April 7, 2016. (Id. at 142-68). Coleman did not seek further direct review by petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, and therefore, the judgment and sentence became final for direct appeal purposes on April 22, 2016. See Md. Rule 8-302(a) (requiring that petitions for writ of certiorari to be filed no later than fifteen days after the Court of Special Appeals issues its mandate).

         On July 12, 2016, Coleman filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court. (State Record at 8). He filed an amended petition through counsel on January 12, 2017. (See id. at 7, 178-99). Following a hearing on May 5, 2017, the Circuit Court denied post-conviction relief on July 18, 2017. (Id. at 6-7).

         Thereafter, Coleman filed an application for leave to appeal the denial of post-conviction relief, which was entered in the Circuit Court docket on September 5, 2017.[1](Id. at 6). On October 10, 2017, the Court of Special Appeals ordered that the application for leave to appeal be dismissed as untimely pursuant to Maryland Rule 8-602(a)(3). (Id. at 226). The mandate issued on November 9, 2017. (Id. at 6).

         On April 2, 2018, Coleman filed a motion to reopen his post-conviction proceedings, which the Circuit Court denied on May 8, 2018. (Id.). On August 3, 2018, a letter from Coleman to the judge who presided over his post-conviction proceedings was docketed in the Circuit Court as a motion for reconsideration of the post-conviction ruling. (Id. at 6, 236-41). The Circuit Court has not yet ruled on that motion.

         Coleman, an inmate at Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Maryland, filed the instant Petition on September 25, 2018.[2] (ECF No. 1). In the fifty-six-page Petition, Coleman collaterally attacks his 2015 convictions for CDS offenses. (Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus [“Pet.”] at 1, ECF No. 1).[3] Coleman appears to take issue with, among other things, the evidence presented at his trial, the assistance rendered by his trial and post-conviction attorneys, the actions taken by the prosecutor, trial judge, and post-conviction judge during the state court proceedings, and the Court of Special Appeals' dismissal of his application for leave to appeal the denial of post-conviction relief. (Id. at 6-55). On December 20, 2018, Respondents filed a Limited Answer in which they argue that the Petition should be dismissed as untimely. (Ltd. Ans., ECF No. 6). On December 21, 2018, the Court issued an Order affording Coleman was afforded an opportunity to explain why the Petition should not be dismissed as time-barred. (Dec. 21, 2018 Order at 3, ECF No. 7). On January 16, 2019, Coleman filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 8).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

         In their Limited Answer, Respondents assert that the Petition should be dismissed as time-barred because it was filed beyond the one-year limitations period set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Respondents note that although the limitations period was statutorily tolled while Coleman's petition for post-conviction relief was pending, more than one year of untolled time elapsed before he filed his Petition in this Court. Respondents also argue that Coleman has not provided sufficient cause to excuse his failure to timely file the Petition and, therefore, it must be dismissed as time-barred. Coleman counters that he thought he had until October 10, 2018 to file his Petition, calculating the one-year limitations period as starting from the Court of Special Appeals' October 10, 2017 order dismissing his application for leave to appeal the denial of post-conviction relief. The Court agrees with Respondents.

         A petition for a writ of habeas corpus may be granted only for violations of the U.S. Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Petitions filed under § 2254 are subject to a one-year statutory limitations period, which includes certain exceptions. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The exception relevant to Coleman's Petition provides, “The limitation period shall run from the latest of . . . the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). In addition, the one-year limitations period is tolled while properly filed state post-conviction proceedings are pending. See Id. at § 2244(d)(2).

         Here, Coleman's Petition is time-barred. His conviction and sentence became final for direct appeal purposes on April 22, 2016, when the time for pursuing direct review in state court expired. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 150 (2012); Md. Rule 8-302(a). He filed his petition for post-conviction relief in state court eighty-one days later, on July 12, 2016, thus leaving 284 days in the one-year period. The ...


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