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Wallace v. Young

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

January 7, 2014

RICHARD A. WALLACE, JR., Petitioner,
v.
STAN YOUNG, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Hon. Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge

Richard A. Wallace, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding with counsel, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, and the time for Petitioner to respond expired, making the matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, [1] I dismiss the petition as time barred.

I.

The Circuit Court of Washington County sentenced Petitioner on June 6, 2005, to eleven years' incarceration after a jury convicted him of rape, forcible sodomy, and assault and battery. The Court of Appeals of Virginia refused an appeal, and the Supreme Court of Virginia refused an appeal on November 16, 2006, and a petition for rehearing on January 19, 2007.

On November 14, 2007, [2] Petitioner, with counsel, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the Circuit Court of Washington County, which denied the habeas claims on December 28, 2009.[3] Petitioner, again with counsel, appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which dismissed the appeal on May 20, 2010, because the petition for appeal was not timely filed in accordance with Virginia Supreme Court Rule 5:17(a)(1).

Petitioner, with counsel, filed a self-styled habeas petition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, with this court in Wallace v. State of Virginia, No. 7:13-cv-00208, on April 29, 2013, to challenge judgments entered by both the Circuit Court of Washington County and the Circuit Court of Russell County. The court conditionally filed the action, ordered the Clerk to have the petition challenging the judgment from the Circuit Court of Washington County to proceed in Wallace v. State of Virginia, No. 7:13-cv-00218, and ordered counsel to file another petition that conforms to the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. The court dismissed the habeas action challenging the judgment imposed by Circuit Court of Washington County without prejudice on May 30, 2013, after counsel failed to comply with the order. Petitioner, again with counsel, filed the instant federal habeas petition on August 5, 2013.

II.

Respondent argues in the motion to dismiss that the petition was not timely filed. Habeas petitions filed under § 2254 are subject to a one-year period of limitation. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).[4] The applicable period for the instant petition began to run from the date on which the judgment of conviction became final.[5] 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A); see United States v. Clay, 537 U.S. 522, 524 (2003) (holding a conviction becomes final once the availability of direct review is exhausted). The one-year filing period is tolled while a convict's "properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review" is "pending." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); see Wall v. Kholi, __ U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 1278, 1288-89 (2011) (discussing proceedings that qualify as collateral review).

Petitioner's § 2254 petition is untimely under § 2244(d)(1)(A). Petitioner's convictions from the Circuit Court of Washington County became final on April 20, 2007, when the time expired for Petitioner to file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States. See U.S. Sup. Ct. R. 13(1) (stating appellant must file a petition for a writ of certiorari within ninety days of the judgment being appealed). Petitioner filed his state habeas petition more than 200 days after his conviction became final, and Petitioner waited more than 1, 300 days to file the instant federal petition. Even with the benefit of statutory tolling, Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition more than one year after the judgment of conviction became final.[6]

Equitable tolling is available only in "those rare instances where - due to circumstances external to the party's own conduct - it would be unconscionable to enforce the limitation period against the party and gross injustice would result." Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d 238, 246 (4th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 330 (4th Cir. 2000)). Thus, a petitioner must have "been pursuing his rights diligently, and ... some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way" to prevent timely filing. Holland v. Florida, __ U.S. __, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 2560 (2010).

Petitioner had the active involvement of counsel before and after his conviction, and I do not find any extraordinary circumstances in this record that prevented Petitioner from filing a timely petition.[7] See id at 2566-68 (Alito, J., concurring) (describing how the Court's precedent makes it "abundantly clear" that attorney negligence, other than abandonment, is not an extraordinary circumstance to warrant equitable tolling); Harris, 209 F.3d at 331 ("[A] mistake by a party's counsel in interpreting a statute of limitations does not present the extraordinary circumstance beyond the party's control where equity should step in to give the party the benefit of his erroneous understanding."). Accordingly, Petitioner filed his federal habeas petition challenging the judgment imposed by the Circuit Court of Washington County more than one year after the judgment became final, Petitioner is not entitled to equitable tolling, and the petition must be dismissed.[8]

III.

For the foregoing reasons, I grant Respondent's motion to dismiss and dismiss the petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Based upon my finding that Petitioner has not made the requisite substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c), a certificate of appealability is denied.


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