Doss-Cornelison v. Hobbs
ORDER directing Defendant Hobbs to file a response, if he wishes to do so, to the equitable tolling arguments rasied by Ms. Doss-Cornelison re 22 Objections to Report and Recommendations 15 . Defendant Hobbs has fourteen days from the date of this Order to file a response. Signed by Magistrate Judge Beth Deere on 3/19/2014. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
JOY DANIELLE DOSS-CORNELISON
CASE NO. 5:13CV00333 DPM/BD
RAY HOBBS, Director,
Arkansas Department of Correction
The Court prepared a Recommended Disposition (“the Recommendation”)
recommending that Petitioner Doss-Cornelison’s petition for writ of habeas corpus be
dismissed with prejudice because it is barred by the statute of limitations set forth in 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). (Docket entry #15) Ms. Doss-Cornelison responded with several
objections to the Recommendation. (#22) Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. declined to accept the
Recommendation and referred the matter back to this Court to consider the points raised
by Ms. Doss-Cornelison in her objections. (#23)
In her objections, Ms. Doss-Cornelison first objects to the Court’s finding that she
had not been diligent in pursuing her petition. She asserts that she had been diligent in
pursuing her claims and had filed every motion and brief in a timely manner or requested
an extension for good cause. (#22 at p. 1) Second, Ms. Doss-Cornelison states that the
Arkansas Supreme Court erred in dismissing her appeal of the trial court’s denial of her
Rule 37 petition because the Arkansas Supreme Court rules were “vague.” (Id.) Third,
Ms. Doss-Cornelison claims that in spite of numerous obstacles, including her mother’s
illness, her own admission to the mental health ward, limited access to the law library,
loss of her legal papers, and lack of knowledge about exhaustion of state remedies, she at
all times diligently pursued exhaustion of her claims with the state courts. (#22 at pp. 23) Fourth, Ms. Doss-Cornelison asserts that her mother’s illness and death; her sister’s
illness; her father’s grief, which led him to be unable to return her legal papers to her; her
lack of legal knowledge and legal resources; and an inadequate law library were all
extraordinary circumstances that prevented her from filing a timely habeas petition. (Id.
at pp. 4-6) Finally, Ms. Doss-Cornelison argues that her actual innocence is an
extraordinary circumstance that justifies tolling the statute of limitations. (Id. at pp. 6-7)
In the Recommendation, this Court explained that, under settled law, lack of
understanding of the law, legal resources, and knowledge of the limitations period are all
insufficient to justify equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. (#15 at p. 6) Further,
the Recommendation explained that, under Eighth Circuit precedent, failure to follow
rules for filing state post-conviction petitions is not deemed an extraordinary
circumstance warranting tolling of the limitations period. (#15 at p. 6) Finally, the
Recommendation addressed Ms. Doss-Cornelison’s ineffective-assistance-of-counsel
claim, noting that ineffective assistance of counsel has generally not been considered an
extraordinary circumstance warranting tolling. (#15 at pp. 6-7) Even though the Eighth
Circuit has acknowledged an exception to that general rule in cases involving serious
attorney misconduct on the part of retained counsel, here Ms. Doss-Cornelison did not
have retained counsel. (Id.) So, many of the circumstances described in her objections
that Ms. Doss-Cornelison claims to be extraordinary circumstances justifying tolling of
the statute of limitations were previously addressed by the Court in its Recommendation.
In her objections, Ms. Doss-Cornelison does raise, however, a few new
circumstances she argues are extraordinary circumstances justifying tolling of the statute
of limitations. For example, Ms. Doss-Cornelison argues that her admission to the
mental health ward for a period of time, which required that she mail her legal documents
home, and her inability to get those documents returned to her by her family members
was an extraordinary circumstance warranting equitable tolling. In her objections, Ms.
Doss-Cornelison also urges that her inability to obtain documents related to her case
through a Freedom of Information Act request was an extraordinary circumstance
warranting equitable tolling.1 (Id. at pp. 3, 5) Finally, Ms. Doss-Conelison alleges her
actual innocence warrants equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. (Id. at pp. 6-7)
Because Ms. Doss-Cornelison’s objections to the Recommendation raise at least
some new claims of extraordinary circumstances warranting equitable tolling, Director
Hobbs is entitled to respond if he wishes to do so. Director Hobbs has fourteen days
from the date of this order to respond to the equitable tolling arguments raised by Ms.
The Court notes that elsewhere in her objections, Ms. Doss-Cornelison concedes
that by the middle of 2009, she had received a “discovery package” with information she
says supported her claim of actual innocence. (#22 at pp. 3, 6-7) The pending petition
was not filed until more than four years later.
Doss-Cornelison in her objections to the Report and Recommendation filed December
18, 2013 (#15).
DATED this 19th day of March, 2014.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?