Knight v. Secretary Department of Corrections et al
ORDER denying the Petition and dismissing the case with prejudice, with directions to the Clerk. Signed by Judge Marcia Morales Howard on 11/10/2014. (BL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
DANIEL J. KNIGHT,
Case No. 3:12-cv-944-J-34JRK
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS,
Petitioner Daniel J. Knight initiated this action on August
21, 2012,1 by filing a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
(Petition; Doc. 1) under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, an Appendix (Doc. 2),
challenges a 2007 state court (Duval County, Florida) judgment of
conviction for trafficking in methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).
Respondents have submitted a memorandum in opposition to the
Petition. See Respondents' Motion to Dismiss Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus (Response; Doc. 15) with exhibits (Resp. Ex.). On
Knight filed the Petition in this Court on August 23, 2012;
however, giving Knight the benefit of the mailbox rule, this Court
finds that the Petition was filed on the date Knight handed it to
the prison authorities for mailing to this Court (August 21, 2012).
See Rule 3(d), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United
States District Courts. The Court will also give Knight the benefit
of the mailbox rule with respect to his inmate state court filings
when calculating the one-year limitations period under 28 U.S.C. §
September 10, 2012, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause and
Notice to Petitioner (Doc. 8), admonishing Knight regarding his
obligations and giving Knight a time frame in which to submit a
reply. Knight submitted a brief in reply. See Petitioner's Reply to
Respondents' Motion to Dismiss (Reply; Doc. 18). This case is ripe
II. One-Year Limitations Period
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(AEDPA) imposes a one-year statute of limitations on petitions for
writ of habeas corpus. Specifically, 28 U.S.C. § 2244 provides:
(d)(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
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 review; or
(D) the date on which the factual
predicate of the claim or claims
presented could have been discovered
(2) The time during which a properly filed
application for State post-conviction or other
pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall
not be counted toward any period of limitation
under this subsection.
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Like the vast majority of federal habeas
petitions, § 2244(d)(1)(A) establishes the limitations period for
Respondents contend that Knight has not complied with the oneyear period of limitations set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). The
limitations issue. On August 21, 2001, the State of Florida charged
Knight with trafficking in MDMA (Ecstasy), a first degree felony
Information. On August 22, 2001, Knight signed a written plea of
guilty and negotiated sentence and agreed that his sentence would
be capped at five years, and the State would waive the three-year
mandatory minimum sentence. Resp. Ex. B. The plea form states: "I
understand that if I am arrested on any new charge that is
supported by a finding of probable cause or if I fail to appear for
any required court date this plea will stand but the negotiated cap
will not and I can be sentenced to any lawful sentence which
includes 30 y[ears] FSP on this charge." Id. at 10.
On August 22, 2001, Knight pled guilty in open court pursuant
Proceedings. Knight understood that the offense was punishable by
up to thirty years in prison, but that he was pleading guilty to a
maximum of five years in prison. Id. at 6. He affirmed that he had
had enough time to discuss the case with his attorney, and that his
attorney had satisfactorily answered his questions. Id. at 8. The
trial judge informed him:
And also if you violate the terms of this
agreement or if you commit a new offense once
you are released from jail and if that charge
is supported by a finding of probable cause,
or if you fail to appear for any of these
required court dates, your guilty plea will
stand and you will be sentenced to any lawful
sentence, which could be up to 30 years in
So if you don't want to go to prison for
30 years, you have to comply with this
Id. at 8, 9. Knight affirmed that he understood the terms of the
plea agreement. Id. at 8. The State provided a factual basis for
the plea. Id. at 9-10. The trial judge then stated in pertinent
I find there's a factual basis for the
plea. Let the record show the defendant freely
and voluntarily entered his plea of guilty
with a full understanding of the nature of the
charge, the consequences of his plea, and the
maximum possible sentence herein. At this time
I will accept the guilty plea.
Id. at 10. The court released Knight on his own recognizance, and
deferred sentencing for sixty days. Id. at 11. The court advised
Knight to write down the October 26th date and instructed him to
return to court on that date. Id. Knight responded: "Yes, sir." Id.
However, he failed to appear at the October 26, 2001 hearing.
Nearly six years later, law enforcement found Knight in Denver,
Colorado, and extradited him to Florida for sentencing. On October
30, 2007, the court sentenced Knight to a term of incarceration of
thirty years with a three-year mandatory minimum term. Resp. Exs.
Knight appealed through counsel who filed a brief pursuant to
Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). Resp. Ex. G. On August
7, 2008, the appellate court affirmed Knight's conviction and
sentence per curiam without issuing a written opinion, see Knight
v. State, 988 So.2d 625 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008); Resp. Ex. H, and the
mandate issued on September 3, 2008, see Resp. Ex. I. Knight did
not seek review in the United States Supreme Court.
Knight's conviction became final on Wednesday, November 5,
2008 (90 days from August 7, 2008). See Close v. United States, 336
F.3d 1283, 1285 (11th Cir. 2003) ("According to rules of the
Supreme Court, a petition for certiorari must be filed within 90
days of the appellate court's entry of judgment on the appeal or,
if a motion for rehearing is timely filed, within 90 days of the
conviction was after April 24, 1996, the effective date of the
AEDPA, Knight had one year from the date his conviction became
Petition, filed on August 21, 2012, is due to be dismissed as
untimely unless he can avail himself of one of the statutory
provisions which extends or tolls the limitations period.
The one-year period of limitations started running on November
6, 2008, and ran for two hundred and ninety-nine (299) days until
Knight filed a pro se motion for post conviction relief pursuant to
Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 on September 1, 2009.
Resp. Ex. J. The State responded. Resp. Ex. K. On July 29, 2010,
the circuit court denied the motion. Resp. Ex. L. On appeal, Knight
filed a pro se brief, see Resp. Ex. M, and the State notified the
court that it did not intend to file an answer brief, see Resp. Ex.
N. On November 4, 2010, the appellate court affirmed the trial
court's denial per curiam. See Knight v. State, 48 So.3d 56 (Fla.
1st DCA 2010); Resp. Ex. O. The mandate issued on November 30,
2010.2 Resp. Ex. P.
The federal limitations period expired sixty-six (66) days
later on Friday, February 4, 2011. Given the record, Knight's
During the pendency of Knight's Rule 3.850 motion, Knight
filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in the appellate
court on September 1, 2009. Resp. Ex. Q. On September 29, 2009, the
appellate court denied the petition on the merits, see Resp. Ex. R,
and later denied Knight's motion for rehearing on October 28, 2009,
see Resp. Exs. S; T.
August 21, 2012 Petition is untimely filed, and due to be dismissed
unless Knight can establish that equitable tolling of the statute
of limitations is warranted. The United States Supreme Court has
established a two-prong test for equitable tolling, stating that a
petitioner must show "(1) that he has been pursuing his rights
diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstances stood in
his way and prevented timely filing." Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S.
631, 649 (2010); Cole v. Warden, Ga. State Prison, 768 F.3d 1150,
1157-58 (11th Cir. 2014). As an extraordinary remedy, equitable
tolling is "limited to rare and exceptional circumstances and
typically applied sparingly." Cadet v. Fla. Dep't of Corr., 742
F.3d 473, 477 (11th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).
circumstances that are both beyond his control and unavoidable with
diligence, and this high hurdle will not be easily surmounted.
Howell v. Crosby, 415 F.3d 1250 (11th Cir. 2005); Wade v. Battle,
379 F.3d 1254, 1265 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). Here,
Knight simply has not met the burden of showing that equitable
tolling is warranted.
Knight acknowledges that his Petition is untimely filed.
Nevertheless, he states that certain "exemptions" should apply.
Petition at 34-37. First, he asserts that he "can establish 'cause'
for his procedural default of untimeliness" under Martinez v. Ryan,
132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012). See Petition at 35, 36-37; Reply at 7-9. In
ineffective assistance of counsel in an initial-review collateral
proceeding on a claim of ineffective assistance at trial may
proceeding. The Martinez Court modified the general rule announced
in Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722 (1991) (stating that an
proceeding does not qualify as cause to excuse a procedural
default),3 to expand the "cause" that may excuse a procedural
exception for ineffective assistance of counsel at initial-review
assistance of counsel during initial-review collateral proceedings
may establish cause for a prisoner's procedural default of a claim
of ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Id. The Court held:
"Where, under state law, claims of ineffective assistance of trial
counsel must be raised in an initial-review collateral proceeding,
a procedural default will not bar a federal habeas court from
hearing a substantial claim of ineffective assistance of counsel at
trial if, in the initial-review collateral proceeding, there was no
In Coleman, the alleged ineffectiveness of counsel was on
appeal from an initial-review collateral proceeding, and in that
proceeding the prisoner's claims had been addressed by the state
habeas trial court. 501 U.S. at 755. However, the Martinez Court
addressed inadequate assistance of counsel at an initial-review
counsel or counsel in that proceeding was ineffective." Id. at
1320; see also Gore v. Crews, 720 F.3d 811, 816 (11th Cir. 2013).
Subsequently, on May 28, 2013, the United States Supreme Court
extended Martinez's rule to cases where state law technically
permits ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims to be raised
on direct appeal, but state procedures, as a practical matter, make
it "virtually impossible" to actually raise such claims on direct
appeal. Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911, 1918 (2013) (citation
framework, by reason of its design and operation, makes it highly
unlikely in a typical case that a defendant will have a meaningful
opportunity to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of trial
counsel on direct appeal, [the] holding in Martinez applies[.]"
Trevino, 133 S.Ct. at 1921.
In January 2014, the Eleventh Circuit addressed an appeal of
a district court's denial of a federal Rule 60(b)(6) motion for
relief from judgment, filed by death row inmate Thomas Arthur. See
Arthur v. Thomas, 739 F.3d 611 (11th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 83
U.S.L.W. 3003, 3169, 3185 (U.S. Oct. 6, 2014) (No. 13-1451,
13A905). In Arthur's counseled Rule 60(b)(6) motion, he argued
that, in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in
Martinez, the district court should reconsider its dismissal of
Arthur's habeas petition as untimely. In denying the motion, the
district court concluded that: (1) a change in decisional law by
itself was not the type of "extraordinary circumstance" required to
trigger Rule 60(b)(6); (2) a change in the law, combined with an
"extraordinary circumstance" sufficient to obtain relief under Rule
60(b)(6); and (3) even if a change in decisional law combined with
constituted an "extraordinary circumstance" under Rule 60(b)(6),
the Martinez decision was not applicable to the facts of Arthur's
Affirming the district court's denial of Arthur's Rule
60(b)(6) motion, the Eleventh Circuit specifically held that the
Martinez and Trevino decisions did not apply in Arthur's case, and
Arthur failed to show an extraordinary circumstance to justify the
granting of Rule 60(b)(6) relief.
The Eleventh Circuit explained that the Martinez rule does not
apply where a petitioner's habeas petition was denied due to his
failure to timely file a habeas petition in federal court.
In contrast, Arthur's case does not
involve "cause" under the procedural default
doctrine. Arthur's § 2254 petition was
dismissed because he filed it well after
AEDPA's limitations period expired, and he
showed no basis for tolling. See Arthur, 452
F.3d at 1250–54. Arthur's case concerns only
the operation of a federal rule -- namely, the
operation of AEDPA's one-year statute of
limitations. It was wholly the operation of
independent of any state procedural rule -that barred Arthur's § 2254 petition. Because
Arthur's § 2254 petition was denied due to his
complete failure to timely file that § 2254
petition, the Supreme Court's analysis in
Martinez and Trevino of when and how "cause"
might excuse noncompliance with a state
procedural rule is wholly inapplicable here.
For all of these reasons, the Martinez
rule does not apply at all to Arthur's case.
Predicting this result, Arthur asserts that we
should broaden the equitable reasoning behind
the Martinez rule and apply it to his case.
But, any such broadening would ignore the
Supreme Court's emphatic statements that the
Martinez rule creates only a narrow exception
to Coleman's general rule. See Martinez, 132
S.Ct. at 1315 (referring to a "narrow
exception"); id. at 1320 (referring to the
"limited circumstances" in which its ruling
applied and discussing the "limited nature" of
the rule); Trevino, 133 S.Ct. at 1921
(applying Martinez's "narrow exception").
Thus, we also hold that the reasoning of the
Martinez rule does not apply to AEDPA's
limitations period in § 2254 cases or any
potential tolling of that period. The narrow
exception in the Martinez rule is designed to
be hard to meet "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." Martinez, 132 S.Ct. at 1316.
Arthur, 739 F.3d at 630-31 (emphasis added).
previously explained, the Court, in Martinez, addressed whether an
procedural default; it neither addressed equitable tolling nor
Knight's case does not involve "cause" under the procedural default
doctrine. Thus, since Knight's habeas petition is due to be
dismissed because he filed it after AEDPA's one-year statute of
limitations period expired, and he has shown no basis for tolling,
the Supreme Court's analysis in Martinez and Trevino of when and
how "cause" might excuse noncompliance with a state procedural rule
is not applicable. See Arthur, 739 F.3d at 630-31.
As to Knight's claim of actual innocence, see Petition at 3536; Reply at 3-7, this Court finds that he has not made the
requisite showing. To make a showing of actual innocence, Knight
must show "that it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror
would have found Petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 327 (1995). In assessing the adequacy
of a petitioner's showing, the Supreme Court has stated:
The meaning of actual innocence . . .
does not merely require a showing that a
reasonable doubt exists in the light of the
new evidence, but rather that no reasonable
juror would have found the defendant guilty.
It is not the district court's independent
judgment as to whether reasonable doubt exists
that the standard addresses; rather the
standard requires the district court to make a
reasonable, properly instructed jurors would
do. Thus, a petitioner does not meet the
threshold requirement unless he persuades the
district court that, in light of the new
evidence, no juror, acting reasonably, would
have voted to find him guilty beyond a
Id. at 329; see also Sibley v. Culliver, 377 F.3d 1196, 1205 (11th
Cir. 2004) (stating that "[t]o establish the requisite probability,
the petitioner must show that it is more likely than not that no
reasonable juror would have convicted him in the light of the new
evidence") (citations omitted). Moreover, "[u]nexplained delay in
presenting new evidence bears on the determination whether the
petitioner has made the requisite showing." McQuiggin v. Perkins,
133 S.Ct. 1924, 1935 (2013). Again stressing that "the Schlup
standard is demanding[,]" the Supreme Court stated: "The gateway
should open only when a petition presents 'evidence of innocence so
strong that a court cannot have confidence in the outcome of the
trial unless the court is also satisfied that the trial was free of
nonharmless constitutional error.'" Id. at 1936 (quoting Schlup,
513 U.S. at 316).
Here, Knight has not offered any new reliable evidence that
was not available at the time of his plea. He has not produced
exculpatory scientific evidence, trustworthy eyewitness accounts,
or critical physical evidence that was not available at the time of
his plea. Indeed, he has failed to point to any evidence to
demonstrate that it is more likely than not that no juror, acting
reasonably, would have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
in light of new evidence. This is not an "extraordinary" case under
the Schlup standard. House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518, 538 (2006).
Knight has not shown a justifiable reason why the dictates of
the one-year limitations period should not be imposed upon him. For
this reason, this Court will dismiss this case with prejudice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) as time-barred.
III. Certificate of Appealability
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)
If Knight seeks issuance of a certificate of appealability,
the undersigned opines that a certificate of appealability is not
warranted. This Court should issue a certificate of appealability
only if the petitioner makes "a substantial showing of the denial
of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. §2253(c)(2). To make this
substantial showing, Knight "must demonstrate that reasonable
constitutional claims debatable or wrong," Tennard v. Dretke, 542
U.S. 274, 282 (2004) (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484
(2000)), or that "the issues presented were 'adequate to deserve
encouragement to proceed further,'" Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S.
322, 335-36 (2003) (quoting Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 893
demonstrate that reasonable jurists would find the district court's
assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong. See
Slack, 529 U.S. at 484. However, when the district court has
rejected a claim on procedural grounds, the petitioner must show
that "jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the
petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional
right and that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether
the district court was correct in its procedural ruling." Id. Upon
consideration of the record as a whole, this Court will deny a
certificate of appealability.
Therefore, it is now
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED:
The Petition (Doc. 1) is DENIED, and this action is
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
The Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment denying the
Petition and dismissing this case with prejudice.
If Knight appeals the denial of the Petition, the Court
denies a certificate of appealability. Because this Court has
determined that a certificate of appealability is not warranted,
the Clerk shall terminate from the pending motions report any
motion to proceed on appeal as a pauper that may be filed in this
Such termination shall serve as a denial of the motion.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case and
terminate any pending motions.
DONE AND ORDERED at Jacksonville, Florida, this 10th day of
c: Daniel J. Knight
Ass't Attorney General (Conley)
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