Arthur v. Haley
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge L Scott Coogler on 6/20/12. (KGE, )
2012 Jun-20 AM 10:54
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
THOMAS D. ARTHUR,
KIM TOBIAS THOMAS,
ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
On May 1, 2012, Petitioner Thomas D. Arthur (“Arthur”) moved this Court
for relief from the prior judgment dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure based upon the
operation of Martinez v. Ryan, --- U.S. ----, 132 S. Ct. 1309 (2012). This Court has
received and considered submissions by Arthur, as well as Respondent Kim Tobias
Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections
(“Commissioner”). The motion is denied.
Page 1 of 25
Arthur has been convicted and sentenced to death for the capital murder of
Troy Wicker in three separate state proceedings. His first conviction and sentence
was reversed by the Alabama Supreme Court on April 5, 1985. Ex parte Arthur, 472
So. 2d 665 (Ala. 1985) (details of a prior murder committed by Arthur—shooting the
victim in the right eye—were held to have been improperly admitted for identification
purposes despite the fact that Troy Wicker was also shot in the right eye).1 Arthur’s
second conviction and sentence was reversed by the Alabama Court of Criminal
Appeals on May 25, 1990. Arthur v. State, 575 So. 2d 1165 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990)
(trial court improperly admitted a statement Arthur made to a police officer in the
absence of counsel when such statement had been made more than two weeks after
he asserted his right to remain silent).
Arthur’s last conviction and sentence was affirmed by the Alabama Supreme
Court on November 21, 1997. Ex parte Arthur, 711 So. 2d 1097 (Ala. 1997). The
Alabama Supreme Court denied Arthur’s application for rehearing on March 20,
1998. On April 7, 1998, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals issued a certificate
of judgment. (Petitioner’s brief at 5.) Arthur did not petition the Supreme Court of
Arthur was convicted of the 1977 murder of Eloise Bray West, the sister of his common-law
wife, where he shot her in her right eye. Ex parte Arthur, 472 So. 2d 665, 669 (Ala. 1985).
Page 2 of 25
the United States for a writ of certiorari following the affirmance of his third
conviction and sentence but did send the Supreme Court a pro se letter dated June 8,
1998. (Doc. 36, Ex. A, B.) In his letter, Arthur requested that the Supreme Court
extend the 90-day time period for him to file a petition for a writ of certiorari. The
Clerk of the Supreme Court responded on June 19, 1998, notifying Arthur that he
needed to include a copy of the lower court opinion and that he needed to serve a copy
of his request for an extension on the opposing counsel. (Id., Ex. B.) The Clerk also
explained in his letter that the maximum allowable extension was for sixty days. (Id.)
Arthur did not respond to the Supreme Court Clerk’s notice of deficiency.
On September 15, 2000, the State of Alabama (“the State”) filed an “Amended
Motion to Set Execution Date” in the Supreme Court of Alabama. (Doc. 46, Ex. 1.)
On January 25, 2001, Arthur, proceeding with the assistance of counsel, filed a Rule
32 petition—his first collateral challenge to his affirmed conviction and sentence.
Arthur’s petition was dismissed by the trial court as untimely on March 5, 2001.
(Doc. 47, Ex. 4.) The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the dismissal on
April 25, 2001. Arthur v. State, 820 So. 2d 886 (Ala. Crim. App. 2001). The Alabama
Supreme Court denied Arthur’s petition for a writ of certiorari on November 2, 2001.
Page 3 of 25
(Doc. 49.) The U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari on May
13, 2002. Arthur v. Alabama, 535 U.S. 1053 (2002).
Failing his first state collateral challenge, Arthur filed the above-styled federal
habeas action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, on April 20, 2001. The petition was
originally assigned to United States District Judge Edwin Nelson, who dismissed the
petition on December 4, 2002, opining that it was barred by the limitations period of
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). In his
petition, Arthur maintained that the limitations period should not have been applied
to bar the consideration of his petition because he was “actually innocent of the crime
for which he was thrice convicted. Arthur further [claimed that] he [was] entitled to
statutory or equitable tolling of the one-year limitations period.” (Doc. 55 at 5.)
Arthur’s assertion of actual innocence rested substantially upon the affidavits
of Alphonso High, Ray Melson, and Billy Peebles, which were submitted by Arthur
as exhibits. (Id. at 12.) The State acquired subsequent statements of the three affiants
that brought the original versions into serious question. (Id. at 12-14.) The Court
found that each of the affidavits submitted by Arthur lacked the required reliability to
cast doubt on the jury’s verdict. The Court further concluded that Arthur had made
no attempt to diligently pursue his alibi claim in state court. The Court also pointed
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out that despite the fact that “[h]is whereabouts at the time of Troy Wicker’s murder
was singularly within Arthur’s knowledge . . . he never made this claim or presented
this evidence to any state court.” (Id. at 15.) The Court agreed that “an otherwise
barred petition should be reviewed to avoid a miscarriage of justice when the
petitioner presents sufficient evidence of his actual innocence,” but found that Arthur
had failed to demonstrate his actual innocence. (Id. at 9.)
In finding that statutory tolling was inapplicable, the Court recognized that the
AEDPA statute of limitations could be tolled. The Court acknowledged that the
limitations period could be tolled until “the date on which [an] 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.” (Id. at 15 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2244 d)(1)(B)).) However, the
Court found that Arthur did “not establish that he was actually injured by
Alabama’s scheme for providing inmates access to the courts.” (Id. at 20.) Arthur
failed to demonstrate that he had inadequate access to library facilities. (Id.) In
response to Arthur’s contention that Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 755-56
(1991), “requires appointment of post-conviction counsel when, as in his case, the
post-conviction proceedings are the first opportunity to raise claims of ineffective
Page 5 of 25
assistance of trial and appellate counsel,” the Court cited Rule 32.7(c) of the Alabama
Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Doc. 55 at 17-18.) As the Court explained, “Arthur did
not avail himself of the Alabama procedures for obtaining post-conviction counsel and
thus cannot show he would not have obtained representation if he had made a request
under Rule 32.7.” (Id.) The Court summarized its conclusions on this point: “the
State did not place any unconstitutional impediment to Arthur’s filing of his federal
habeas petition sufficient to statutorily toll the AEDPA limitations period.” (Id. at
Finally, the Court turned to Arthur’s argument for equitable tolling of the
limitations period, pointing out that such relief required a showing of “extraordinary
circumstances that are both beyond his control and unavoidable even with diligence.”
(Id. at 21 (quoting Steed v. Head, 219 F.3d 1298, 1300 (11th Cir. 2000)).) Arthur
proffered that his failure to timely file his habeas petition was “due to the State’s
failure to provide him with notice, legal assistance, visits from investigators who
wanted to help him, or adequate law library facilities.” (Id.) Each purported reason
was considered, addressed, and rejected. (Doc. 55.)
On December 18, 2002, Arthur filed a motion pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to alter or amend the December 4, 2002, dismissal.
Page 6 of 25
Before he could rule on the motion, Judge Nelson died and the action was reassigned
to the undersigned for subsequent proceedings. On June 5, 2003, this Court denied
Arthur’s Rule 59(e) Motion and then Arthur appealed that ruling to the United States
Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. That court affirmed the dismissal of
Arthur’s petition on June 21, 2006. Arthur v. Allen, 452 F.3d 1234 (11th Cir. 2006).2
Arthur’s petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States
was denied on April 16, 2007. Arthur v. Allen, 549 U.S. 1338 (2007).
Arthur was then scheduled to be executed on July 31, 2008, but he filed a
“Motion for Access to DNA Evidence Before July 31, 2008, Execution” in the
Alabama Supreme Court. Arthur v. State, 71 So. 3d 733, 738 (Ala. Crim. App. 2010).
That motion was denied on July 29, 2008. Id. Arthur then filed an “‘Emergency
Successive Petition for Relief from Conviction Pursuant to Rule 32 of the Alabama
Rules of Criminal Procedure’ and an ‘Emergency Motion for Stay of Execution and
Access to DNA Evidence Based on Newly Discovered Facts That Completely
Exonerate Thomas D. Arthur’ in the [trial] court.” Id. The stay was granted by the
Alabama Supreme Court on July 30, 2008. “Thereafter, the [state] circuit court
conducted evidentiary hearings regarding Arthur’s Rule 32 petition and ordered some
The Eleventh Circuit subsequently modified its opinion by adding language to its discussion
of Arthur’s entitlement to a hearing and discovery. Arthur v. Allen, 459 F.3d 1310 (11th Cir. 2006).
Page 7 of 25
DNA testing. Afterward, it entered an order in which it thoroughly addressed each
of Arthur’s claims” and denied his petition. Id.
In his second collateral challenge to his third conviction and sentence, Arthur
asserted that he was innocent of murdering Troy Wicker as demonstrated by what he
described as newly discovered evidence—the confession of Bobby Ray Gilbert
(“Gilbert”), a fellow inmate, who claimed to have been the one who actually
committed the murder of Troy Wicker. Id. at 738-39. However, the state circuit court
found after extensive evidentiary proceedings, including the court ordering and
considering the results of DNA testing of evidence found at the original crime scene,
that Gilbert and Arthur had conspired to commit perjury by submitting Gilbert’s false
confession to the court. Id. at 739-41. The state trial court determined that “the
overwhelming evidence and testimony presented before [the] Court established that
Gilbert lied, that his affidavit [was] false, and that he had no role in the murder of Troy
Wicker. [That] court further [found] that the evidence presented demonstrate[d] that
both Gilbert and Arthur engaged in an attempt to defraud [that] Court by means of the
affidavit made the subject of [that] Rule 32, in which Gilbert [took] credit for the
murder of Troy Wicker.” Id. at 740-41.
In arriving at its conclusion, the state circuit court noted that:
Page 8 of 25
During the hearing, the State presented extensive evidence,
particularly through the testimony of its inmate witnesses,
which clearly indicated that the affidavit of Gilbert was
prepared with Arthur’s assistance. The State offered
evidence that Arthur arranged for numerous notes to be
transported and delivered to Gilbert while both were
incarcerated in Holman Prison. Through these notes,
Arthur was able to feed Gilbert facts about the murder of
Troy Wicker to enable Gilbert to have information to create
Id. at 739.
Arthur appealed the denial of his successive Rule 32 Petition to the Alabama
Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed the denial on April 30, 2010. Id. at 738.
His petition for a writ of certiorari from the Alabama Supreme Court was denied on
April 15, 2011, and Arthur’s petition for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme
Court was denied on October 17, 2011. Arthur v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 453 (2011).
On June 8, 2011, Arthur filed, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an action in the
United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama challenging the
method of execution then utilized by the State. While that action was pending, the
State filed a motion on October 25, 2011, to reset Arthur’s execution date with the
Alabama Supreme Court. The Middle District Court dismissed Arthur’s challenge
on November 3, 2011. Arthur v. Thomas, 2011 WL 5294656 (M.D. Ala. 2011).
Page 9 of 25
On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
reversed the dismissal of Arthur’s challenge of the State’s method of execution and
remanded it to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama for
further factual development. Arthur v. Thomas, 674 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2012).
Arthur’s challenge to the State’s method of execution remains pending.
Prohibition of Successive Habeas Petition.
The Commissioner argues that Arthur’s 60(b) Motion is actually a successive
habeas petition and thus cannot be considered by this Court. “Before a second or
successive application permitted by . . . section  is filed in the district court, the
applicant shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the
district court to consider the application.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). “[F]or
purposes of § 2244(b) an ‘application’ for habeas relief is a filing that contains one or
more ‘claims.’” Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 530 (2005).
Arthur did not obtain an order from the United States Court of Appeals for the
Eleventh Circuit before filing his pending motion. Therefore, this Court must first
determine if his motion actually presents a claim and thus should be treated as a
successive habeas petition. See id. While Arthur certainly makes arguments in his
Page 10 of 25
motion that appear to reassert his previously filed claims and may even assert new
support for those claims, this Court understands that through such argument, Arthur
is attempting to satisfy the “substantial claim of ineffective assistance” requirement
of Martinez in challenging this Court’s previous ruling on the AEDPA statute of
The Gonzalez Court recognized that “when a Rule 60(b) motion attacks, not
the substance of the federal court's resolution of a claim on the merits, but some defect
in the integrity of the federal habeas proceedings,” it does not constitute a successive
habeas petition. Id. at 532. Therefore, the Court will address Arthur’s Rule 60(b)
Motion without requiring him to first obtain an order from the United States Court
of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Rule 60(b) Motion.
Arthur bases his motion on Rule 60(b)(6),4 which requires a showing of
“‘extraordinary circumstances’ justifying the reopening of a final judgment.” Id. at
A Rule 60(b) motion challenging “only the District Court’s previous ruling on the AEDPA
statute of limitations . . . is not the equivalent of a successive habeas petition.” Gonzalez, 545 U.S.
While Arthur does not specify which of the six grounds delineated in Rule 60(b), the Court
assumes that he relies upon the only one that seems possible—“any other reason that justifies
Page 11 of 25
535. As recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, “[s]uch circumstances will rarely
occur in the habeas context.” Id.
Arthur contends that the Supreme Court, in Martinez, “announced a change
in law that excuses [his] failure to file within the statute of limitations.” (Pet’r Br. at
7.) He argues that “[a] change in law combined with extraordinary circumstances
justifies [relief under to Rule 60(b)(6)].” (Id. at 15.) Arthur maintains that his seeking
to “vindicate his constitutional right to effective counsel” is a sufficient showing of
extraordinary circumstances. (Id.)
Clearly a change in the law, by itself, is not an “extraordinary circumstance”
under Rule 60(b). In the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, “[i]t is hardly
extraordinary that subsequently, after petitioner’s case was no longer pending, this
Court arrived at a different interpretation.” Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 536.
As if the words of the Supreme Court require further support, Beunka Adams,
facing imminent execution, sought to have his execution stayed while he prosecuted
a Rule 60(b)(6) motion based upon Martinez, also asserting his intention to, as Arthur
puts it, “vindicate his constitutional right to effective counsel.” Adams v. Thaler, —
F. 3d —, 2012 WL 1415094 (5th Cir. April 25, 2012). The court explained that:
In his Rule 60(b)(6) motion, Adams stated that the district
court relied on Coleman to conclude that Adams's
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ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel claims
were procedurally defaulted and that ineffective assistance
of state post-conviction counsel could not constitute cause
to excuse the default. Adams asserted that, since the
district court's judgment, the Supreme Court had decided
Martinez, which created an exception to Coleman's holding
that ineffective assistance of state habeas counsel cannot
constitute cause to excuse procedural default. Adams
argues that Martinez constitutes “extraordinary
circumstances” entitling him to Rule 60(b)(6) relief.
Id. at *3.
The Fifth Circuit then went on to conclude:
In denying Adams's initial federal habeas petition, the
district court correctly determined that Adams's claims
were procedurally defaulted pursuant to the then-prevailing
Supreme Court precedent of Coleman. The Supreme
Court's later decision in Martinez, which creates a narrow
exception to Coleman's holding regarding cause to excuse
procedural default, does not constitute an “extraordinary
circumstance” under Supreme Court and our precedent to
warrant Rule 60(b)(6) relief. See Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 536,
125 S.Ct. 2641; Bailey, 894 F.2d at 160. The Martinez
Court's crafting of a narrow, equitable exception to
Coleman's holding is “hardly extraordinary.” Gonzalez, 545
U.S. at 536, 125 S.Ct. 2641; see also Martinez, 132 S.Ct. at
1320 (“The rule of Coleman governs in all but the limited
circumstances recognized here.”).
Because the Martinez decision is simply a change in
decisional law and is “not the kind of extraordinary
circumstance that warrants relief under Rule 60(b)(6),”
Adams's 60(b)(6) motion is without merit.
Page 13 of 25
Id. at *7.
Thus, the Fifth Circuit vacated the district court’s stay of execution. The
Supreme Court, in turn, refused to stay Adam’s execution. Adams v. Thaler, 2012 WL
1435301 (U.S. April 25, 2012).
Arthur attempts to cure the patent insufficiency of his purported
“extraordinary circumstances” by adding that he is seeking to “vindicate his
constitutional right to effective counsel.” (Pet’r Br. at 15.) This is a nonstarter.
Considering that most habeas petitions consist of a list of allegations of how the
petitioner’s previous counsel was ineffective, there is nothing extraordinary about
Arthur’s claim of such. See, e.g., Adams, 2012 WL 1415094. Further, if a change in
the law, combined with an allegation of ineffective counsel, is sufficient to constitute
“extraordinary circumstances,” it will be hard to imagine a previously adjudicated
habeas action that will not be the subject of continuous review. The requirement of
extraordinary circumstances maintains the appropriate balance between “the policy
of the law to favor a hearing of a litigant's claim on the merits” and “the desire to
achieve finality in litigation.” Lussier v. Dugger, 904 F.2d 661, 667 (11th Cir. 1990)
(quoting 11 C. WRIGHT, A. MILLER & M. K. KANE, FEDERAL PRACTICE
PROCEDURE § 2857 at 159).
Page 14 of 25
Even if Martinez, combined with Arthur’s ultimate goal of challenging the
sufficiency of the representation he previously received, could constitute
“extraordinary circumstances” so as to warrant relief from a long- standing judgment,
it is not clear that Martinez amounts to a change in the law that is applicable to
In explaining his logic, Arthur first notes that the “Supreme Court held that
where, under state law, ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims must first be
raised in a collateral proceeding, a procedural default will not bar a federal habeas
court from hearing those claims if, in the collateral proceeding, there was no counsel
or counsel was ineffective.” (Pet’r Br. at 8 (citing Martinez, 132 S. Ct at 1315).)
Arthur then extrapolates “[b]ecause Mr. Arthur’s habeas petition raised a claim of
ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and he was not represented in his initial-review
collateral proceeding, Martinez requires this Court to reconsider its 2002 judgment
denying such claim as procedurally barred.” (Pet’r Br. at 8.) One problem with this
argument is that Arthur was in fact represented in his initial-review collateral
proceeding. Arthur, 452 F.3d at 1242. That is not, however, the only difficulty the
Court has with Arthur’s position.
Page 15 of 25
In Martinez, the petitioner’s postconviction counsel failed to assert a claim of
ineffective trial counsel in the first state collateral challenge to the conviction.
Martinez, 132 S. Ct. at 1314. After his first collateral challenge was dismissed and
affirmed on appeal, Martinez obtained new counsel and filed a second state collateral
challenge—this time asserting that his trial counsel had provided him ineffective
assistance. Id. That challenge was “dismissed, in part in reliance on an Arizona Rule
barring relief on a claim that could have been raised in a previous collateral
Martinez then filed a habeas petition in federal district court which was
dismissed based upon the doctrine of procedural default:
Federal habeas courts reviewing the constitutionality of a
state prisoner's conviction and sentence are guided by rules
designed to ensure that state-court judgments are accorded
the finality and respect necessary to preserve the integrity
of legal proceedings within our system of federalism. These
rules include the doctrine of procedural default, under
which a federal court will not review the merits of claims,
including constitutional claims, that a state court declined
to hear because the prisoner failed to abide by a state
Id. at 1316.
Page 16 of 25
“In order to serve as the basis for a procedural bar in federal habeas
proceedings, a state rule must be firmly established and regularly followed.” Hurth
v. Mitchem, 400 F.3d 857, 858 (11th Cir. 2005). In Martinez, there “[was] no dispute
that Arizona’s procedural bar on successive petitions [was] an independent and
adequate state ground.” Martinez, 132 S. Ct. at 1316. However, “[t]he doctrine
barring procedurally defaulted claims from being heard is not without exceptions. A
prisoner may obtain federal review of a defaulted claim by showing cause for the
default and prejudice from a violation of federal law.” Id. (citing Coleman v.
Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991).
“Martinez had not shown cause to excuse the procedural default, the District
Court reasoned, because under Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722 (1991), an
attorney’s errors in a postconviction proceeding do not qualify as cause for a default.”
Martinez, 132 S. Ct. at 1315. The Coleman Court concluded that “because the
attorney is the prisoner’s agent . . . under ‘well-settled principles of agency law,’ the
principal bears the risk of negligent conduct on the part of his agent.” Id. at 1316.
However, in Martinez, the Court expressed its concern that “if counsel’s errors in an
initial-review collateral proceeding do not establish cause to excuse the procedural
Page 17 of 25
default in a federal habeas proceeding, no court will review the prisoner’s claims.”
Id. The Court went on to explain:
As Coleman recognized, an attorney's errors during
an appeal on direct review may provide cause to excuse a
procedural default; for if the attorney appointed by the
State to pursue the direct appeal is ineffective, the prisoner
has been denied fair process and the opportunity to comply
with the State's procedures and obtain an adjudication on
the merits of his claims. Without the help of an adequate
attorney, a prisoner will have similar difficulties vindicating
a substantial ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim. .
. . To present a claim of ineffective assistance at trial in
accordance with the State's procedures, then, a prisoner
likely needs an effective attorney.
The same would be true if the State did not appoint
an attorney to assist the prisoner in the initial-review
collateral proceeding. The prisoner, unlearned in the law,
may not comply with the State's procedural rules or may
misapprehend the substantive details of federal
Id. at 1317 (internal citations omitted).
In order to resolve this issue, Martinez carved out a narrow exception5 on
equitable6 rather than constitutional grounds:
Where, under state law, claims of ineffective
assistance of trial counsel must be raised in an initial-review
Id. at 1315.
Id. at 1318.
Page 18 of 25
collateral proceeding, a procedural default will not bar a
federal habeas court from hearing a substantial claim of
ineffective assistance at trial if, in the initial-review
collateral proceeding, there was no counsel or counsel in
that proceeding was ineffective.
Id. at 1320.
As Martinez noted, Arizona law then required that claims of ineffective
representation by trial counsel be raised in—and only in—the initial collateral
proceeding. Id. at 1314. “Where . . . the initial-review collateral proceeding is the first
designated proceeding for a prisoner to raise a claim of ineffective assistance at trial,
the collateral proceeding is in many ways the equivalent of a prisoner’s direct appeal
as to the ineffective-assistance claim.” Id. at 1317. The Supreme Court concluded
[W]hen a State requires a prisoner to raise an ineffectiveassistance-of-trial-counsel claim in a collateral proceeding,
a prisoner may establish cause for a default of an
ineffective-assistance claim in two circumstances. The first
is where the state courts did not appoint counsel in the
initial-review collateral proceeding for a claim of ineffective
assistance at trial. The second is where appointed counsel
in the initial-review collateral proceeding, where the claim
should have been raised, was ineffective under the
standards of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).
Id at 1318.
Page 19 of 25
Arthur sees his situation to be analogous to Martinez, and thus seeks to have his
failure to meet the limitation period of the AEDPA treated as a procedural default,
making it subject to waiver so long as he can demonstrate “cause” and “prejudice.”7
Continuing the reasoning of Martinez, Arthur would contend “cause” is provided by
the failure of the State to provide him an adequate attorney to assist him in preparing
and prosecuting his initial collateral challenge in state court.
Arthur is simply not in the same situation as the petitioner in Martinez for at
least three reasons. First, when the federal district court, following Coleman,
concluded that he could not demonstrate “cause,” Martinez appealed his case, and
when he failed to obtain relief in the circuit court, he applied for and obtained a writ
of certiorari from the Supreme Court. Considering his arguments on the application
of procedural default to his case, the Supreme Court recognized a limited exception
to Coleman, thus enabling Martinez to establish “cause.”
All of this was
accomplished within the limitation period of the AEDPA, as it was properly tolled by
his pending litigation. Arthur, on the other hand, did not file anything until long after
the limitation period provided by the AEDPA had passed.
The Court will not address whether Arthur has demonstrated “prejudice” as he has not
only failed to show that the change in law he attributes to Martinez actually applies to his situation,
but he has also failed to demonstrate that such change constitutes “extraordinary circumstances”
so as to warrant relief from this Court’s previous judgment.
Page 20 of 25
In rendering his December 4, 2002 opinion, Judge Nelson considered and
applied the correct law as evidenced by his opinion being affirmed. See Arthur v. Allen,
452 F.3d 1234 (11th Cir. 2006). The Court considered and for good reason rejected
Arthur’s requested exception to the application of the limitation period provided for
in the AEDPA. Id. In considering Arthur’s arguments, Judge Nelson, as well as the
Eleventh Circuit, determined that he had failed to demonstrate “actual innocence”
and that he had failed to show that he was entitled to either statutory or equitable
tolling of the AEDPA limitation period. Id. The reasoning of these courts is stated
in great detail in the previous opinions and thus need not be rehashed at this point.
Suffice it to say, it was not the failure to present his claims in state court that subjected
his federal habeas action to dismissal; rather, it was his complete failure to file a
petition, even in a pro se form, within the federal limitation period along with his
inability to demonstrate “actual innocence.”
The second major difference between Arthur’s situation and that of the
petitioner in Martinez is that Arthur could have obtained a review of his ineffectiveassistance-of-trial-counsel claims with the aid of counsel different from his trial
counsel in his direct appeal, as well as in his first collateral challenge. When Arthur
filed the direct appeal of his last conviction and sentence, Alabama—unlike
Page 21 of 25
Arizona—not only permitted such claims to be raised on direct appeal but provided
a mechanism by which Arthur was able to assert a claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel on direct appeal. See Ex Parte Jackson, 598 So. 2d 895 (Ala. 1992).8 Since
Arthur was represented by different counsel on his direct appeal, he could have
asserted a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in his direct appeal.9 Gray v. State,
581 So. 2d 1136 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990) (“Appellant’s claim concerning ineffective
assistance of counsel also should have been raised on direct appeal, since he was
represented on direct appeal by different counsel . . . .”); see also Flanagan v. State, 577
So. 2d 559 (Ala. Crim. App. 1990). In fact, Arthur, through counsel other than trial
counsel, requested that the trial court toll the running of the time he was to file a
motion for a new trial until such time as he could obtain the trial transcript. (C. at
The Alabama Supreme Court overruled Ex Parte Jackson in 1996 to the extent that it
permitted the trial court to extend the Rule 24.1(b) thirty-day time limit for filing a motion for new
trial. Regardless, the Alabama Supreme Court “continue[d] to encourage trial judges to attempt to
facilitate newly appointed appellate counsel's efforts to make new trial motions based upon an
alleged lack of effective counsel before the Rule 24.1(b) time limit expires.” Ex Parte Ingram, 675
So. 2d 863, 865 (Ala. 1996).
While Arthur cites the Court to cases such as Henderson v. State, 586 So. 2d 1009 (Ala. Cr.
App. 1991), (Pet’r Br. at 9) for the proposition that ineffective assistance claims could not be asserted
on direct appeal in Alabama, it appears that in those situations the trial counsel also represented the
Defendant on his direct appeal. 586 So. 2d at 1010 (“Trial counsel, who Henderson has alleged to
have been ineffective, remained counsel of record until after Henderson's Rule 20 petition was
filed.”) This was not Arthur’s situation.
Page 22 of 25
408.) In the motion, Arthur made clear his intention to assert allegations of ineffective
assistance of counsel. (Id.)
Arthur did not take advantage of such tolling, choosing instead to file, through
yet another attorney, his Motion to Proceed to Appellate Review. (C. at 434.)
Through his motion, Arthur expressed concern over the trial court’s jurisdiction to
toll the time period considering that court’s previous denial and then reconsideration
of an earlier-filed Motion for New Trial. (Id.) Arthur also contended that he had
meritorious appellate claims and that “such additional new trial litigation would
disadvantage Mr. Arthur by significantly delaying appellate review of his case and the
relief from his conviction and death sentence that he expected to obtain.” (Id.)
Whether Arthur was correct concerning the trial court’s jurisdiction or not, that court
granted his request and allowed him to proceed to direct appeal, where he actually
presented at least some allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. See Arthur v.
State, 711 So. 2d 1031 (Ala. Crim. App. 1996).
Further, as the Eleventh Circuit recognized in its opinion affirming the
judgment Arthur now challenges, “Alabama provides for the appointment of counsel
for a petitioner seeking postconviction relief. An indigent petitioner, who desires the
assistance of counsel, may seek appointment of counsel if the petitioner's
Page 23 of 25
postconviction relief petition is not summarily dismissed.” Arthur, 452 F. 3d at 1250.
Arthur failed to do so:
Arthur did not seek appointment of counsel under Alabama
Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.7(c) . . . but instead sought
counsel through letters to various organizations and
postings on the internet. In the letters and internet
postings, he asked that the case not be referred to either the
Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, or
to the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, in Montgomery,
Alabama. The statute of limitation expired during his
Id. at 1250.
In other words, Arthur could have filed a pro se state collateral challenge and
requested the appointment of counsel, but he did not. Arthur did ultimately obtain
counsel, who filed his first state collateral challenge (albeit after not only the state
limitation period for such challenge had expired but also after the limitations period
provided for in the AEDPA had expired as well). “Arthur provided no reasons in his
petition for not filing a pro se petition while seeking counsel.” Id.
The third major difference in Arthur’s and Martinez’s situation is that in
Arthur’s case, the issues have been litigated to conclusion. A judgment was entered,
appealed, and affirmed. For Arthur to reopen the judgment, he must comply with
Page 24 of 25
Rule 60(b) by first showing “extraordinary circumstances.” Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at
536. As discussed above, this has not been done.
For the reasons stated above, Arthur’s motion for relief from the prior
judgment dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas corpus is due to be DENIED.
A separate order consistent with this opinion will be entered.
Done this 20th day of June 2012.
L. Scott Coogler
United States District Judge
Page 25 of 25
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