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Gales v. Dovey

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 29, 2019

NATHANIEL H. GALES, III Petitioner
v.
WARDEN RICHARD DOVEY and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND Respondents

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In answer to Petitioner Nathaniel H. Gales's self-represented Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Respondents assert that the petition is time-barred and subject to dismissal. ECF 11. Gales has filed a Reply indicating that his Petition is timely. ECF 12, ECF 14. The Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts and Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018); see also Fisher v. Lee, 215 F.3d 438, 455 (4th Cir. 2000) (petitioner not entitled to a hearing under 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(2)). For the reasons stated below, the Petition shall be dismissed and a certificate of appealability shall not issue.

         BACKGROUND

         By his petition, Gales challenges his October 28, 1985 sentence of life for first degree rape and armed robbery imposed following his guilty plea by the Circuit Court for Howard County, Maryland. ECF 1 at p. 1. Gales provides a brief history of his case, explaining he stood trial in 1983, was found guilty by a jury, and was sentenced to life plus 20 years consecutive. Id. at p. 5. On May 31, 1984, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed and remanded the case. Id. In 1985, the State elected to retry the case and offered Gales a plea agreement on the eve of trial; Gales entered an Alford [1]plea.

         Gales did not appeal his guilty plea. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for Howard County on April 25, 2014. ECF 1 at p. 3. The Circuit Court denied relief on October 18, 2016. Id. at p. 4. Gales filed an application for leave to appeal the denial of post-conviction relief with the Court of Special Appeals which was denied on August 29, 2017. Id.

         On November 20, 2017, Gales filed his petition for federal habeas relief with this Court. He claims (1) discovery violations[2]: the State failed to disclose impeachment evidence on two State witnesses; failed to disclose exculpatory evidence regarding his co-defendant's willingness to accept a ten-year sentence; failed to disclose exculpatory evidence regarding hair evidence; (2) ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to investigate State's witnesses, failing to investigate discovery compliance, failing to request an independent lab test of pubic hair in the rape kit evidence; (3) a 2015 FBI statement regarding the unreliability of hair analysis evidence calls into question the validity of the hair evidence introduced in Gales' initial trial; and (4) the postconviction court relied on incorrect law to deny relief. ECF 1 at pp. 6-11.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A one-year statute of limitations applies to habeas petitions in non-capital cases for a person convicted in a state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). This section provides:

(1) A 1-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 post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward ...

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