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Thomas v. Clarke

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

April 12, 2001

SILVESTER ALLEN THOMAS, Petitioner,
v.
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge

         Silvester Allen Thomas, a Virginia state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("§ 2254 Petition, " ECF No. 1) challenging his convictions in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond, Virginia ("Circuit Court"). Respondent moves to dismiss, inter alia, on the ground that the one-year statute of limitations governing federal habeas petitions bars the § 2254 Petition. Thomas has responded. The matter is ripe for disposition.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. Procedural History

         As relevant here, a grand jury charged Thomas with two counts of capital murder, three counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and one count of robbery.[1] At some point before Thomas's eventual guilty plea, the Commonwealth reduced the capital murder counts to first-degree murder. See e.g., Indictment at 1-2, Commonwealth v. Thomas, No. CR01-1742-F (Va. Cir. Ct. Dec. 10, 2001); Indictment at 1, Commonweal th v. Thomas, No. CR01-1764-F (Va. Cir. Ct. Dec. 10, 2001); (ECF No. 10-1, at 1) . On February 4, 2002, Thomas pled guilty as follows:

It is the agreement of the parties hereto that upon the entry of a plea of GUILTY by the defendant to two charges of Murder in the first degree, one charge of robbery, and three charges of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, the Attorney for the Commonwealth will recommend to the Court that the defendant be sentenced to serve life on the first degree murder of Delano Peoples, that he be sentenced to serve life on the first degree murder of Phillip Gaskins, that he be sentenced to serve fifteen years on the robbery of Ernest Alston, that he be sentenced to serve three years on the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, that he be sentenced to serve five years on the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, that he be sentenced to serve five years on the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, each sentenced to run consecutively to the other. The Commonwealth further agrees to nolle prosequi the remaining matters associated with the robbery of Ernest Alston (offense Dated: 4/12/01) and the murders of Delano Peoples and Phillip Gaskins (offense Dated: 6/21/01).

(ECF No. 10-2, at 1). The same day, the Circuit Court convicted Thomas of the five counts, and sentenced him to the recommended sentence in the Plea Agreement of two life sentences and a twenty-eight year sentence, all to run consecutively. (ECF No. 10-1, at l.)

         Thomas filed no appeal and pursued no collateral attacks on his conviction or sentence. On November 17, 2016, Thomas filed the § 2254 Petition now before the Court. (§ 2254 Pet. 15, ECF No. I.)[2] In his § 2254 Petition, Thomas raises the following claim for relief:

Claim One: "Eighth Amendment violation because Petitioner['s] life sentence does not comport with Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718 (2016)." (Id. at 6.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Statute Of Limitations

         Respondent contends that the federal statute of limitations bars Thomas's claim. Section 101 of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA") amended 28 U.S.C. § 2244 to establish a one-year period of limitation for the filing of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court. Specifically, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) now reads:

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 ...

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