Kaddah v. Brighthaupt
RULING re 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Nabil Kaddah Signed by Judge Stefan R. Underhill on 8/6/13.(Sbalbi, B.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
Case No. 3:11-cv-1809 (SRU)
RULING ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Petitioner Nabil Kaddah, currently confined at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in
Cheshire, Connecticut, filed a habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, to challenge
his conviction for murder, attempted murder and unlawful restraint on the grounds of ineffective
assistance of trial, appellate and habeas counsel. The respondent argues that the petition is
untimely and the ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel claims are procedurally
defaulted. For the reasons that follow, the petition is denied.
Kaddah was found guilty, after a jury trial in consolidated cases, on charges of murder of
one woman and attempted murder and unlawful restraint of a second woman. He was sentenced
to a total effective term of imprisonment of seventy-five years. On direct appeal, Kaddah raised
two issues unrelated to the grounds for relief in this action. The Connecticut Supreme Court
affirmed his conviction. See State v. Kaddah, 250 Conn. 563, 564-65, 736 A.2d 902, 903 (1999).
Kaddah moved for review of his sentence pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 51-195, which
requires that an application for sentence review must be filed within thirty days of sentencing.
On October 27, 2004, Kaddah’s sentence was affirmed. State v. Kaddah, Nos. CR94100558,
CR94100560, 2004 WL 2668799 (Conn. Super. Ct. Oct. 27, 2004).
On August 28, 2000, Kaddah filed a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. The
petition was dismissed without prejudice because Kaddah had not exhausted his state remedies
on any ground for relief. See Kaddah v. Strange, No. 3:00cv1642 (CFD), 2001 WL 91602 (D.
Conn. Jan. 18, 2001). Following the dismissal of the federal habeas action, Kaddah filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus in state court, Kaddah v. Warden, No. CV 01-0807618-S. In
his amended petition he raised two grounds for relief, ineffective assistance of trial and appellate
counsel, grounds included in this action. The state court held a hearing and, on December 19,
2003, denied the petition. Kaddah appealed the denial but, before the Connecticut Appellate
Court issued a decision, Kaddah withdrew his appeal. See Case Detail, Resp’t’s Mem. App. H.
Before he withdrew the appeal of the first state habeas, Kaddah filed a second state
habeas petition. The only issue raised in the second state petition was ineffective assistance of
counsel in the first state habeas action. Following a hearing, the state court denied the second
habeas petition. The Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the denial and the Connecticut
Supreme Court denied certification on February 26, 2008. Kaddah v. Commissioner of
Correction, 105 Conn. App. 430, 939 A.2d 1185, cert. denied, 286 Conn. 903, 943 A.2d 1101
On March 14, 2008, Kaddah filed a second federal habeas petition. The court dismissed
the petition on October 7, 2008, on the ground that Kaddah failed to exhaust his state court
remedies before commencing the federal action. The court also explained the statute of
limitations for filing a federal habeas action and questioned whether the petition was timely filed.
Kaddah v. Lee, No. 3:08-cv-519 (SRU), 2008 WL 4534264 (D. Conn. Oct. 7. 2008).
On November 17, 2008, Kaddah filed a third state habeas action. The state court
dismissed the petition as successive. The Connecticut Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on
November 30, 2010. Kaddah v. Commissioner of Correction, 299 Conn. 129, 7 A.3d 911
(2010). Kaddah commenced this action by petition dated July 29, 2011, but not received by the
court until November 21, 2011.
In 1996, the federal habeas corpus statutes were amended to impose a one-year statute of
limitations on a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging a judgment of conviction
imposed by a state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) (2000). The limitations period begins on
the completion of the direct appeal or the conclusion of the time within which an appeal could
have been filed, and may be tolled for the period during which a properly filed petition for postconviction or other collateral review is pending. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244; Wall v. Kholi. ___ U.S.
___, 131 S. Ct. 1278 (2011).
The petitioner can overcome the time bar by demonstrating that the limitations period
should be equitably tolled. Equitable tolling, however, applies in habeas cases only in
extraordinary and rare circumstances. The petitioner would have to show that he has been
pursuing his rights diligently, but extraordinary circumstances prevented him from timely filing
his petition. Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005); Diaz v. Kelly, 515 F.3d 149, 153
(2d Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Diaz v. Conway, 129 S. Ct. 168 (2008). The threshold for a
petitioner to establish equitable tolling is very high. See Smith v. McGinnis, 208 F.3d 13, 17 (2d
Cir.) (acknowledging high threshold for establishing equitable tolling), cert. denied, 531 U.S.
The respondent argues that Kaddah filed this petition beyond the one-year limitations
period, that he procedurally defaulted in state court on his claims of ineffective assistance of trial
and appellate counsel and that his claim of ineffective assistance of habeas counsel is not
cognizable in a federal habeas petition. Because I conclude that the petition is untimely filed, I
need not consider the respondent’s other arguments.
Currently, there is a one-year limitations period for filing a petition for writ of habeas
corpus in federal court to challenge a judgment of conviction imposed by a state court. The
limitations period commences when the conviction becomes final and is tolled while a properly
filed application for post-conviction or other collateral relief is pending in state court. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d). Kaddah’s conviction became final on December 6, 1999, at the conclusion of the
time during which he could have filed a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court
from the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision affirming his conviction. See Williams v. Artuz,
237 F.3d 147, 151 (2d Cir.) (direct appeal included time within which petitioner could have, but
did not, file petition for certiorari), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 924 (2001).
At the time his conviction became final, Kaddah’s application for sentence review was
pending. In 2011, the Supreme Court held that motions to reduce sentence qualify as “other
collateral review” that would toll the limitations period. See Wall, 131 S. Ct. at 1285-86.
Kaddah filed his first and second state habeas actions while the application for sentence review
was pending. Thus, the limitations period did not begin to run until February 26, 2008, when the
Connecticut Supreme Court denied review of the ruling on Kaddah’s second state habeas
Although Kaddah filed his second federal habeas petition in March 2008, the filing of a
federal habeas action does not toll the limitations period. Duncan v. Walker, 553 U.S. 167, 18182 (2001). The limitations period was tolled on November 17, 2008, when Kaddah filed his
third state habeas petition. At that time, 264 days had elapsed. The limitations period
recommenced, but did not restart, on November 30, 2010, when the Connecticut Supreme Court
dismissed the appeal of the third habeas action. See Smith v. McGinnis, 208 F.3d 13, 17 (2d Cir.
2000) (“proper calculation of Section 2244(d)(2)’s tolling provision excludes time during which
properly filed state relief applications are pending but does not reset the date from which the one
year statute of limitations begins to run”). The limitations period expired on March 11, 2011.
Kaddah signed this petition on July 29, 2011. Even if the court were to assume that
Kaddah gave the petition to prison officials to be mailed to the court on that date,1 the petition
was filed 140 days too late.
Where the limitations period has expired, the federal court will review the merits of a
Prisoners are considered to have filed documents in federal court on the day they give the
documents to prison officials to be mailed to the court. See Dory v. Ryan, 999 F.2d 679, 682 (2d Cir.
1983) (prison mailbox rule requires court to consider pro se prisoner petitions filed on date prisoner
gives petition to correctional staff for mailing) (citing Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270 (1988)).
When the document arrives at the court within a few days from the date it was signed, the court
assumes that the document was given to prison officials for mailing on the day it was signed. In this
case, however, the length of time between the date Kaddah signed the petition and the date it reached
the court precludes such an assumption. Because the petition would not have been timely filed even
if it were mailed on July 29, 2011, there is no point in requiring Kaddah to provide evidence of the
date on which the petition was given to prison officials for mailing.
habeas petition only if the petitioner can show that the limitations period should be equitably
tolled. Equitable tolling may be applied only in extraordinary circumstances and requires the
petitioner “to demonstrate a causal relationship between the extraordinary circumstances on
which the claim for equitable tolling rests and the lateness of his filing, a demonstration that
cannot be made if the petitioner, acting with reasonable diligence, could have filed on time
notwithstanding the extraordinary circumstances.” Valverde v. Stinson, 224 F.3d 129, 134 (2d
Kaddah has not provided an explanation of the delay in filing his federal petition. Thus,
he has identified no extraordinary circumstances warranting equitable tolling. The habeas
petition is denied as time-barred.
The petition for writ of habeas corpus [Doc. #1] is DENIED as untimely filed. Jurists of
reason would not find it debatable that Kaddah failed to timely file the petition. Thus, a
certificate of appealability will not issue. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)
(holding that, when the district court denies a habeas petition on procedural grounds, a certificate
of appealability should issue if jurists of reason would find debatable the correctness of the
district court’s ruling).
The Clerk is directed to enter judgement and close this case.
SO ORDERED at Bridgeport, Connecticut this 6th day of August 2013.
/s/ Stefan R. Underhill
Stefan R. Underhill
United States District 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?