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Crawford v. Christensen

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 26, 2019

LARRY A. CRAWFORD, Petitioner,
v.
JAY CHRISTENSEN, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge.

         Petitioner Larry A. Crawford (Petitioner) filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus challenging his state court conviction. (Dkt. 3.) Respondent Jay Christensen (Respondent) filed a Motion for Summary Dismissal on procedural grounds. (Dkt. 12.) Petitioner then filed a Motion to Amend the Petition with a proposed Amended Petition. (Dkts. 15, 17.) These and several administrative motions are ripe for adjudication.

         All named parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to enter final orders in this case. (Dkt. 6.) See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. The Court takes judicial notice of the record from Petitioner’s state court proceedings, which has been lodged by the parties. See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); Dawson v. Mahoney, 451 F.3d 550, 551 (9th Cir. 2006). Having carefully reviewed the record, including the state court record, the Court finds that the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs and record and that oral argument is unnecessary. See D. Idaho L. Civ. R. 7.1(d). Accordingly, the Court enters the following Order dismissing the Petition for failure to satisfy the required statute of limitations period.

         PETITIONER’S MOTION TO AMEND PETITION

         Petitioner brought only one claim in his original federal Petition-that he should have been permitted to withdraw his guilty plea. (Dkt. 3.) In the Initial Review Order, the Court recognized that such a claim could be either a federal or a state law claim, notified Petitioner that he could proceed only if it was a federal claim, and invited clarification. (Dkt. 7.)

         On January 4, 2019, Respondent filed a Motion for Summary Dismissal, seeking dismissal of all of Petitioner’s claims. In response, Petitioner filed a Motion to Amend, a proposed Amended Petition, and two supporting briefs. (Dkts. 15, 16, 19, 26.)

         Petitioner does not contest Respondent’s assertion that the original Petition was untimely. Instead, he argues the merits of his claims and sets forth an actual innocence argument to excuse the untimely filing. The Court will grant the Motion to Amend, but, to Petitioner’s benefit, the earlier filing date of the original Petition will govern. As explained below, both the original Petition and the Amended Petition-regardless of the different claims asserted in each-are subject to Respondent’s statute of limitations defense.

         RESPONDENT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY DISMISSAL

         1. Habeas Corpus Review Standard of Law

         Federal habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is available to petitioners who show that they are held in custody under a state court judgment and that such custody violates the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Summary dismissal is appropriate where “it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. When a petitioner’s compliance with threshold procedural requirements is at issue, a respondent may file a motion for summary dismissal, rather than an answer. White v. Lewis, 874 F.2d 599, 602 (9th Cir. 1989).

         2. Statute of Limitations Standard of Law

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) requires a petitioner to seek federal habeas corpus relief within one year from several triggering dates specified in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D). Which trigger is applicable depends on the nature and timing of the petitioner’s claims. The first trigger, § 2244(d)(1)(A), provides a means of calculating the limitations start date for the “application” as a whole (date of final judgment). The remaining three triggers require claim-by-claim consideration, § 2244(d)(1)(B) (governmental interference); § 2244(d)(1)(C) (new right made retroactive); § 2244(d)(1)(D) (new factual predicate). See Mardesich v. Cate, 668 F.3d 1164 (9th Cir. 2012), relying in part on dicta in Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 416 n.6 (2005)).

         In all instances, one year means 366 days, for example, from January 1, 2000, to January 1, 2001. See Patterson v. Stewart, 251 F.3d 1243, 1246 (9th Cir. 2001) (applying Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a) to AEDPA).

         The most common trigger is the first one, “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). That date can be calculated as follows.

Action Taken

Finality Occurs

No appeal is filed after state district court order or judgment

42 days later, see Idaho Appellate Rule 14

Appeal is filed and Idaho Court of Appeals issues a decision, but no petition for review is filed with the Idaho Supreme Court

21 days later, see Idaho Appellate Rule 118

Appeal is filed and Idaho Supreme Court issues a decision or denies a petition for review of an Idaho Court of Appeals decision, and Petitioner does not file a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court

90 days later, see United States Supreme Court Rule 13

After Idaho Supreme Court issues a decision or denies a petition for review, Petitioner files a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, and the petition is denied

Date of denial

After Idaho Supreme Court issues a decision or denies a petition for review, Petitioner files a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, and the petition is denied

Date of decision

         In each instance above, “finality” is measured from entry of the final judgment or order, not from a remittitur or mandate, which are mere formalities. Gonzales v. Thaler, 132 S.Ct. 641, 653 (2012); Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 529 (2003); Wixom v. Washington, 264 F.3d 894, 898 n.4 (9th Cir. 2001).

         AEDPA also contains a tolling provision that stops or suspends the one-year limitations period from running during the time in “which a properly filed application for State postconviction or other collateral review . . . is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). Because this particular statutory provision applies only to “pending” actions, the additional 21-, 42- and 90-day time periods associated with the calculation of finality after direct appeal are not applied to extend the tolling periods for post-conviction actions. However, unlike direct appeal “finality, ” the term “pending” does extend through the date of the remittitur.[1]

         The federal statute is not tolled between the date the direct appeal is “final” and the filing of a proper post-conviction application, or between post-conviction finality and any successive collateral review petition. Id. Each time statutory tolling ends, the statute of limitations does not restart at one year, but begins running at the place where it stopped before the post-conviction action was filed.

         Once a federal statute of limitations has expired, it cannot be reinstated or resurrected by a later-filed state court action. See Ferguson v. Palmateer, 321 F.3d 820, 822 (9th Cir. 2003) (“section 2244(d) does not permit the reinitiation of the limitations period that has ended before the state petition was filed”).

         3. Equitable Tolling Standard of Law

         If a petition is deemed untimely, a federal court can hear the claims if the petitioner can establish that “equitable tolling” should be applied. In Pace v. DiGuglielmo, the Supreme Court clarified that, “[g]enerally, a litigant seeking equitable tolling bears the burden of establishing two elements: (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstances stood in his way.” 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005). In addition, there must be a causal link between the lateness and the extraordinary circumstances. See Bryant v. Schriro, 499 F.3d 1056, 1061 (9th Cir. 2007) (holding that a petitioner must show that his untimeliness was caused by an external impediment and not by his own lack of diligence). The petitioner bears the burden of bringing forward facts to establish a basis for equitable tolling. United States v. Marolf, 173 F.3d 1213, 1318, n. 3 (9th Cir. 1999).

         Ignorance of the law, without more, is not grounds for equitable tolling. Rasberry v. Garcia, 448 F.3d 1150, 1154 (9th Cir. 2006) (a petitioner’s “inability correctly to calculate the limitations period” and “lack of legal sophistication” are not “extraordinary circumstance[s] warranting equitable tolling”)).

         4. Actual Innocence Standard of Law

         The Supreme Court of the United States has determined that there is an “actual innocence” exception to the AEDPA statute of limitations, and that the exception applies where a petitioner meets the rigorous actual innocence standard of Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995). McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. 383 (2013). “‘Actual innocence means factual innocence, and not mere legal insufficiency.’” Marrero v. Ives, 682 F.3d 1190 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 623 (1998)).

         To make a showing of actual innocence under Schlup, a petitioner must present new evidence showing that “‘it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted [the petitioner].’” Perkins, 569 U.S. at 400 (quoting Schlup, 513 U.S. at 327). This exception is to be applied only in the “extraordinary” or “extremely rare” case. House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518, 538 (2006); Schlup, 513 U.S. at 320-21.

         5. Background

         In a criminal action in Twin Falls County, Idaho, Petitioner pleaded guilty to and was convicted of one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor under the age of sixteen.[2] Three other related charges were dismissed under Petitioner’s plea agreement with the State of Idaho. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and two motions to correct an illegal or excessive sentence. All were denied. (State’s Lodging A-1.)

         Petitioner filed a direct appeal to challenge denial of his post-trial motions. The appeal was heard by the Idaho Court of Appeals. After the state district court rulings were affirmed, the Idaho Supreme Court denied a petition for review. The direct ...


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