United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division
Victoria Lynn Hoyt, Pro Se Defendant.
P. Jones United States District Judge.
defendant, proceeding pro se, filed a Motion to Vacate, Set
Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255.
This matter is before me for preliminary review, pursuant to
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings. After
reviewing the record, I deny the motion as untimely filed.
entered Hoyt's criminal judgment on April 16, 2015,
sentencing her to, inter alia, 57 months'
incarceration after Hoyt, with counsel, pleaded guilty to
conspiring to commit misbranding, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 371, and misbranding, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
commenced this collateral attack no earlier than May 18,
2016. The court conditionally filed her
"Motion, Plain Error Review, " and advised her that
it intended to construe that motion as a § 2255 motion
in accordance with Castro v. United States, 540 U.S.
375, 377 (2003). The court further advised that the §
2255 motion appeared to be untimely and gave her the
opportunity to explain why the court should consider the
§ 2255 motion to be timely filed. Hoyt argues that I
should consider the § 2255 motion to be timely filed
because she commenced this collateral attack within one year
of Molina-Martinez vs. United States, 136 S.Ct.
1338, 1345 (2016).
inmates in custody may attack the validity of their federal
sentences by filing motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
within the one-year limitations period. This period begins to
run from the latest of: (1) the date on which the judgment of
conviction becomes final; (2) the date on which the
impediment to making a motion created by governmental action
in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States
is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion
by such governmental action; (3) the date on which the right
asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if
that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and
made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review;
or (4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or
claims presented could have been discovered through the
exercise of due diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).
criminal judgment became final on April 30, 2015, when the
time expired to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit. See Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522,
524-25 (2003) (stating a conviction becomes final once the
availability of direct review is exhausted). Accordingly, for
purposes of § 2255(f)(1), Hoyt had until April 30, 2016,
to timely file a § 2255 motion, but she did not commence
this collateral attack until May 18, 2016.
argues that her motion is timely filed within one year of
Molina-Martinez vs. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1338,
1345 (2016), which was issued on April 20, 2016. However,
Molina-Martinez does not recognize a new right, and
Hoyt fails to establish that it applies retroactively to
cases on collateral review. Cf. United States v.
Sanders, 247 F.3d 139, 147-48 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing
league v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 312 (1989)).
Consequently, Hoyt fails to establish that the limitations
period runs from the issuance of Molina-Martinez,
and Hoyt filed the § 2255 motion more than one year
after her conviction became final.
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." 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, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). I do not
find that Hoyt pursued her rights diligently or that an
extraordinary circumstance prevented her from filing a timely
§ 2255 motion. See, e.g., United States v.
Sosa, 364 F.3d 507, 512 (4th Cir. 2004) (noting pro se
status and ignorance of the law does not justify equitable
tolling); Turner v. Johnson, 111 F.3d 390, 392 (5th
Cir. 1999) (noting that unfamiliarity with the law due to
illiteracy or pro se status does not toll the limitations
period). Accordingly, Hoyt is not entitled to equitable
tolling, and the § 2255 motion must be denied as
foregoing reasons, the Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or
Correct Sentence is denied. A separate ...