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Bell v. Commonwealth

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

June 27, 2014

DEREK D. BELL, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN A. GIBNEY, Jr., District Judge.

Derek D. Bell, a Virginia detainee proceeding pro se, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("§ 2254 Petition"). Respondent moves to dismiss, inter alia, on the ground that the one-year statute of limitations governing federal habeas petitions bars the § 2254 Petition. Bell has responded. The matter is ripe for disposition.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On May 11, 2009, the Circuit Court for the City of Waynesboro entered final judgment against Bell, finding him to be a sexually violent predator pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predators Act, Va. Code Ann. § 37.2-900, et seq. (West 2013), and committed Bell to the custody of the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Departmental Services ("DBHDS"). Commonwealth v. Bell, No. CL08000237-00, at 1-4 (Va. Cir. Ct. May 11, 2009). On October 30, 2009, the Supreme Court of Virginia, finding no reversible error, refused the petition for appeal. Bell v. Commonwealth, No. 091512, at 1 (Va. Oct. 30, 2009). On January 20, 2010, the Supreme Court of Virginia refused his petition for rehearing. Bell v. Commonwealth, No. 091512, at 1 (Va. Jan. 20, 2010).

In 2010, the Circuit Court conducted the first annual review hearing of Bell's civil commitment and on September 9, 2010, entered judgment granting Bell conditional release from commitment. Commonwealth v. Bell, No. CL08000237-00, at 1-3 (Va. Cir. Ct. Sept. 9, 2010). The Commonwealth appealed, and on September 16, 2011, the Supreme Court of Virginia reversed the decision of the Circuit Court finding that "[Bell] does need secure impatient treatment" and effectively ordered Bell's continued commitment. Commonwealth v. Bell, 714 S.E.2d 562, 566 (Va. 2011). On November 14, 2011, the Supreme Court of Virginia denied Bell's petition for rehearing. Commonwealth v. Bell, No. 102314, at 1 (Va. Nov. 14, 2011). On December 7, 2011, the Supreme Court of Virginia entered final judgment. Commonwealth v. Bell, No. 102314, at 1 (Va. Dec. 7, 2011).[1]

On February 13, 2013, the Circuit Court recommitted Bell for another year based on his written waiver of his second annual review hearing. Commonwealth v. Bell, No. CL08000237-00, at 1-3 (Va. Cir. Ct. Feb. 13, 2013).

On March 27, 2013, Bell filed an initial 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition with this Court.[2] In his § 2254 Petition, the Court construes Bell to bring the following claims:

Claim One "I do not fit the criteria to be labeled a Sexual Violent Predator. (SVP).... I do not suffer from any type of compulsive disorder that would cause me to commit any violent sexual crime. That the... prosecution office has lied to the court and its defendants committed perjury...." (§ 2254 Pet. Attach. 1, ECF No. 5-1)[3]
Claim Two "The circuit court lacked jurisdiction in which to bring petitioner to trial under civil commitment law...." ( Id (citation omitted).)
Claim Three "The lower courts violate the petitioner's liberty interest by re-civil committing him after release...." ( Id. at 2.)

II. ANALYSIS

A. Statute of Limitations

Respondent contends that the federal statute of limitations bars Bell's claims. 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 ...

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