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Legesse v. Clarke

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

August 17, 2016

WBENGDA ESHTU LEGESSE, Petitioner,
v.
HAROLD CLARKE, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Roderick C. Young United States Magistrate Judge

         Wbengda Eshtu Legesse, a Virginia state prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (hereinafter, "§ 2254 Petition, " ECF No. 1) challenging his convictions in the Circuit Court for the City of Alexandria ("Circuit Court"). Respondent moves to dismiss on the ground that, inter alia, the one-year statute of limitations governing federal habeas petitions bars the § 2254 Petition. Legesse has not responded. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13) will be GRANTED.

         I. PERTINENT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Legesse pled guilty in the Circuit Court to malicious wounding by mob, trespass with the intent to interfere with the rights of a property owner, and assault and battery by mob, and was sentenced to an active sentence of eight years. Commonwealth v. Legesse, No. CF13000087, at 1-2 (Va. Cir. Ct. Aug. 2, 2013). On September 10, 2013, the Circuit Court entered final judgment. Commonwealth v. Legesse, No. CF 13000087, at 1 (Va. Cir. Ct. Sept. 10, 2013).[1] Legesse did not appeal.

         On September 2, 2014, Legesse filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court of Virginia. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus at 1, Legesse v. Clarke, No. 141310 (Va. filed Sept. 2, 2014). On March 17, 2015, the Supreme Court of Virginia granted Respondent's motion to dismiss and dismissed Legesse's petition. See Legesse v. Clarke, No. 141310, at 1, 4 (Va. Mar. 17, 2015).

         On or about October 8, 2015, Legesse filed his § 2254 Petition with the Western District of Virginia.[2] (§ 2254 Pet. 15.) By Order entered on October 30, 2015, the Western District of Virginia transferred Legesse's § 2254 Petition to this Court. (ECF No. 2, at 2.) In his § 2254 Petition, Legesse asserts the following claims for relief:

Claim One "Ineffective Assistance of Counsel-Petitioner was denied conflict-free assistance of counsel at all stages of the criminal proceedings, to his substantive prejudice, in violation of his rights as guaranteed under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and under §§ 8 and 11 of Article 1 of the Virginia Constitution. Petitioner's Attorney, Ms. Marina Medvin, promised him that he would receive no more than three (3) years if he accepted the Commonwealth's plea offer. Petitioner was sentenced to eight (8) years instead." (§ 2254 Pet. 6.)
Claim Two "Ineffective Assistance of Counsel-Petitioner re-alleges as is fully set out in ground One that he was denied conflict-free assistance of counsel. Petitioner's attorney, Ms. Medvin, failed to motion for discovery to ascertain the government's evidence prior to negotiating a plea." (Id. at 7 (spelling corrected).)
Claim Three "Ineffective Assistance of Counsel-Petitioner states as is fully set out in Grounds one and two that he was denied conflict-free assistance of counsel at every critical stage of the proceeding. Petitioner's attorney, Ms. Marian Medvin, coerced petitioner into accepting a plea deal that resulted in his receiving more than the three (3) years which she herself assured him he would receive." (Id. at 9 (spelling corrected).)
Claim Four "Prosecutorial Misconduct-The prosecutor in this case withheld evidence concerning the fact that the witness was not available to testify. This evidence was not made available to petitioner until after he had accepted the commonwealth's plea offer. Petitioner would not have pled guilty had he been aware that there was no witness to testify against him." (Id. at 11 (spelling corrected).)

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Statute of Limitations

         Respondent contends that the federal statute of limitations bars Legesse'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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