Pace v. Chapdelaine et al
ORDER of Dismissal. The Application is denied and the action is dismissed. No certificate of appealability will issue, by Judge Lewis T. Babcock on 12/8/11. (lsw, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 11-cv-02556-BNB
NED PACE, JR.,
JOHN CHAPDELAINE, Acting Warden,
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO, and
JOHN SUTHERS, the Attorney General of the State of Colorado,
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
Applicant, Ned Pace, Jr., is in the custody of the Colorado Department of
Corrections (DOC) and currently is incarcerated at the Sterling Correctional Facility in
Sterling, Colorado. Mr. Pace has filed a pro se Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging the validity of his convictions in Case Nos.
02CR185 and 02CR186 in the District Court for the City and County of Denver.
In an order entered on October 24, 2011, Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland
directed Respondents to file a Pre-Answer Response limited to addressing the
affirmative defenses of timeliness under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) and exhaustion of state
court remedies under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). On October 31, 2011, Respondents
filed a Pre-Answer Response. Mr. Pace submitted a Reply on November 21, 2011.
The Court must construe liberally the Application filed by Mr. Pace because he is
not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972);
Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not
act as an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. For the reasons
stated below, the Court will dismiss the action as barred by the one-year limitation
Background and State Court Proceedings
Following a jury trial in two consolidated cases on October 23, 2002, Mr. Pace
was found guilty of two counts each of first degree murder, felony murder, and sexual
assault. Pre-Answer Resp. Ex. A at p. 9 (State Register of Actions). The trial court
subsequently sentenced Mr. Pace to life without parole in the Department of
Mr. Pace then filed a direct appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals. Id. The
appellate court affirmed his convictions on May 5, 2005. See People v. Pace, No.
02CA2379 (Colo. App. May 5, 2005) (unpublished opinion). Mr. Pace petitioned the
Colorado Supreme Court for certiorari review, which was denied on October 3, 2005.
Pre-Answer Resp. at Ex. A, p. 8. The mandate issued on October 12, 2005. Id. at 3.
On March 19 and 21, 2008, Mr. Pace filed post-conviction motions pursuant to
Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 35(c). Pre-Answer Resp. at Ex. A, p. 7. The
trial court denied the motions on September 5, 2008. Id.
Mr. Pace filed an additional Rule 35(c) motion on May 18, 2009. Id. The trial
court denied the motion on January 7, 2010. Id. Mr. Pace filed an appeal, and the
Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court on March 24, 2011. See People v.
Pace, No. 10CA0368 (Colo. App. March 24, 2011) (unpublished opinion).
Mr. Pace then filed the instant action, which was received by the Court on
September 29, 2011. In the Application, Mr. Pace asserts twenty-six claims.
Respondents argue that this action is barred by the one-year limitation period in
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Section 2244(d) provides as follows:
(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 limitation period shall
run from the latest of–
(A) the date on which the judgment became
final by the conclusion of direct review or the
expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing
an application created by State action in
violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States is removed, if the applicant was
prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right
asserted was initially recognized by the
Supreme Court, if the right has been newly
recognized by the Supreme Court and made
retroactively applicable to cases on collateral
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of
the claim or claims presented could have been
discovered through the exercise of due
(2) The time during which a properly filed application for
State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect
to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be
counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection.
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).
In order to apply the one-year limitation period, the Court first must determine
when the judgment of conviction in Mr. Pace’s criminal case became final.
Because Mr. Pace filed a direct appeal, his conviction became final ninety days after
October 3, 2005, the date the Colorado Supreme Court denied certiorari review. See
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Therefore, the Court finds that Mr. Pace’s conviction
became final on January 2, 2006.1 As such, the one-year statute of limitations began to
run on January 3, 2006, the next business day after the conclusion of the time to
appeal. See, e.g., Locke v. Saffle, 237 F.3d 1269, 1273 (10th Cir. 2003).
The Court must next determine whether any of Mr. Pace’s state court postconviction motions tolled the one-year limitation period. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(2), a properly filed state court post-conviction motion tolls the one-year
limitation period while the motion is pending. An application for post-conviction review is
properly filed with the meaning of § 2244(d)(2) “when its delivery and acceptance are in
compliance with the applicable laws and rules governing filings.” Artuz v. Bennett, 531
U.S. 4, 8 (2000). The requirements include:
(1) the place and time of filing; (2) the payment or waiver of any required
filing fees; (3) the obtaining of any necessary judicial authorizations that
are conditions precedent to filing, such as satisfying any filing
preconditions that may have been imposed on an abusive filer; and (4)
other conditions precedent that the state may impose upon the filing of a
Habteselassie v. Novak, 209 F.3d 1208, 1210-11 (10th Cir. 2000).
The ninetieth day fell on a Sunday, January 1, 2006. Therefore, the filing deadline extends until
January 2, 2006. See C.A.R. 26(a).
The issue of whether a postconviction motion is pending is a matter of federal
law. See Gibson v. Klinger, 232 F.3d 799, 806 (10th Cir. 2000). The term “pending”
includes “all of the time during which a state prisoner is attempting, through proper use
of state court procedures, to exhaust state court remedies with regard to a particular
post-conviction application.” Barnett v. Lemaster, 167 F.3d 1321, 1323 (10th Cir.
1999). Furthermore, “regardless of whether a petitioner actually appeals a denial of a
post-conviction application, the limitations period is tolled during the period in which the
petitioner could have sought an appeal under state law.” Gibson, 232 F.3d at 804.
There were no pending motions in Mr. Pace’s state court action between January
3, 2006, and March 19, 2008. See Pre-Answer Resp. at Ex. A, p. 7; Ex. B, p. 6.
Therefore, the statute of limitations began to run on January 3, 2006, and ran un-tolled
until it expired on January 3, 2007. Because the one-year limitation period expired
before Mr. Pace filed his first post-conviction motion on March 19, 2008, that motion,
and any subsequent motions, could not have tolled the one-year limitation period. See
Clark v. Oklahoma, 468 F.3d 711, 714 (10th Cir. 2006) (stating that state court
postconviction motions toll the one-year limitation period only if they are filed within the
one-year limitation period). The Court finds that the limitation period expired
approximately four years and eight months prior to the filing of the application on
September 29, 2011. Therefore, the instant action is time-barred in the absence of
some other reason to toll the one-year limitation period.
The one-year limitation period in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) is not jurisdictional and
may be tolled for equitable reasons in appropriate extraordinary situations when
circumstances beyond a prisoner’s control make it impossible to file the habeas corpus
application on time. See Miller v. Marr, 141 F.3d 976, 978 (10th Cir. 1998). In
addition, equitable tolling may be appropriate if (1) the inmate is actually innocent; (2)
an adversary’s conduct or other uncontrollable circumstances prevents the inmate from
timely filing; or (3) the inmate actively pursues judicial remedies but files a defective
pleading within the statutory period. See Gibson, 232 F.3d at 808. Simple excusable
neglect, however, is not sufficient to support equitable tolling. See id. Furthermore,
equitable tolling is appropriate only if the inmate pursues his claims diligently. See
Miller, 141 F.3d at 978. Finally, Mr. Pace bears the burden of demonstrating that
equitable tolling is appropriate in this action. See id. at 977.
Mr. Pace argues that he is entitled to equitable tolling because his attorney told
him that the attorney would “file for a new trial” in May of 2006 but failed to do so. Reply
at 4. It is true that particularly egregious misconduct, such as repeated, deceitful
assurances that a habeas petition would soon be filed, may entitle a habeas applicant to
equitable tolling. See Fleming v. Evans, 481 F.3d 1249, 1256-57 (10th Cir. 2007); see
also Holland, 130 S.Ct. at 2564 (stating that the one-year limitation period is subject to
equitable tolling when “serious instances of attorney misconduct” have occurred).
However, the Fleming court also recognized that “clients, even if incarcerated, must
‘vigilantly oversee,’ and ultimately bear responsibility for their attorneys’ actions or
failures.” Id. at 1255-56 (quoting Modrowski v. Mote, 322 F.3d 965, 968 (7th Cir.
2003)). In this case, Mr. Pace does not allege that his counsel was assisting him in
preparing a habeas petition or that his counsel repeatedly assured him that a habeas
petition would be filed on his behalf.
Further, federal case law requires that Mr. Pace “allege with specificity the steps
he took to diligently pursue his federal claims” in order to meet the diligence
requirement associated with equitable tolling. Yang v. Archuleta, 525 F.3d 925, 930
(10th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). Mr. Pace fails to detail any steps
that he took to “diligently pursue his federal claims”. Id. Moreover, the fact that Mr.
Pace’s attorney was contemplating filing for a new trial in 2006 does not explain Mr.
Pace’s complete failure to file any motions in his criminal case until March 19, 2008, nor
his decision to delay the filing of his habeas application until September 29, 2011.
Having reviewed Mr. Pace’s allegations, the Court finds that he has failed to
assert any basis for equitable tolling. Therefore, under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), he is timebarred from filing a federal habeas corpus action in this Court. Because the action
clearly is time-barred, the Court will refrain from addressing whether Mr. Pace has
exhausted his state court remedies. Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the Application is denied and the action is dismissed because it
is barred by the one-year limitation period in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).
FURTHER ORDERED that no certificate of appealability will issue because
Applicant has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
DATED at Denver, Colorado, this 8th
BY THE COURT:
s/Lewis T. Babcock
LEWIS T. BABCOCK, Senior Judge
United States District Court
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