Holly v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER: The habeas corpus petition is DENIED. This case is DISMISSED. William Holly is DENIED a certificate of appealability. Signed by Chief Judge Philip P Simon on 8/10/2015. (lhc)(cc: Holly)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:13-cv-00546-PPS
OPINION AND ORDER
The procedural history of this case is long and complicated. The respondent
argues that this habeas corpus petition is untimely and that the claims were not
exhausted. However, a “procedural-bar issue [need not] invariably be resolved
first,”Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 525 (1997), and “the AEDPA statute of
limitations defense is not jurisdictional.” Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010)
(quotation marks and ellipsis omitted). This means that “[a]n application for a writ of
habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant
to exhaust the remedies available in the courts of the State.” 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254(b)(2).
Because none of the three claims raised by William Holly, a pro se prisoner, have any
merit, “[j]udicial economy . . . counsel[s] giving the[m] priority, [because they are] easily
resolvable against the habeas petitioner . . . .” Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 525
The three claims presented in this case are the same three claims that Holly
presented to the Court of Appeals of Indiana which affirmed the denial of his State
habeas corpus petition. Because the State court adjudicated these claims on the merits, I
can only grant habeas corpus if that ruling was an unreasonable determination of either
the facts or the law. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Here is how the State court explained the basic
facts of this case:
In the early 1990’s [sic], Holly was serving a federal sentence in
Pennsylvania when he was brought to Indiana to face charges of
attempted murder, rape, and robbery. In 1994, Holly was convicted and
sentenced to fifty years for attempted murder, twenty years for rape, and
eight years for robbery—to run consecutively, for a total term of
Holly was required to complete his federal sentence in
Pennsylvania before serving his state sentence in Indiana. Holly was
returned to Pennsylvania by a private prisoner-transportation company,
TransCor America. On the way back to Pennsylvania, Holly was briefly
housed in correctional facilities in Michigan and Ohio. Although Holly
was returned to Pennsylvania to serve the remainder of his federal
sentence, his state sentence began running while he did so. After his
federal sentence was complete, in June or July 1995, Holly was returned to
Indiana and incarcerated in the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility with
an earliest possible release date of 2036.
Holly v. Indiana, No. 52A04-1109-MI-492, 980 N.E.2d 448 (table), at *1, 2012 Ind. App.
Unpub. LEXIS 1634, at *1-2 (Ind. Ct. App., Dec. 28, 2012); DE 42-14 at 15.
Holly’s first claim is that the State was in default because its response to his State
habeas corpus petition in the Miami Circuit Court was late. The Court of Appeals of
Indiana explained that because the deadline fell on Saturday, Indiana Trial Rule 6(A)
automatically extended the deadline to the following Monday – which is when the
response was filed. DE 42-14 at 18-19. That was not an unreasonable determination. The
State’s brief was not late. But even if it had been two days late as Holly argues, releasing
him from his 78-year sentence for robbery, rape, and attempted murder would not have
been an appropriate remedy because “habeas corpus relief is not to be used as a remedy
for harmless technical violations.” Lemons v. O’Sullivan, 54 F.3d 357, 365 (7th Cir. 1995)
citing Waletzki v. Keohane, 13 F.3d 1079 (7th Cir.1994).
What’s more, this kind of procedural issue during a State collateral proceeding is
not an independent basis for federal habeas corpus relief. That is because habeas corpus
review is “limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991) (emphasis added).
“Unless state collateral review violates some independent constitutional right, such as
the Equal Protection Clause, see, for example, Lane v. Brown, 372 U.S. 477, 484-85 (1963);
Smith v. Bennett, 365 U.S. 708 (1961), errors in state collateral review cannot form the
basis for federal habeas corpus relief.” Montgomery v. Meloy, 90 F.3d 1200, 1206 (7th Cir.
1996) (parallel citations omitted). In Lane and Smith, indigent inmates were unable to
attack their convictions because they could not afford to pay the required filing fees
while non-indigent inmates could do so. Here, even if the State’s brief had been filed
two days late, it would not have undermined the validity of his conviction or sentence,
nor would it have been an independent constitutional violation. Therefore this claim
cannot be a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Second, Holly argues that his Indiana sentence should not have run concurrent to
his federal sentence. This argument is more than a bit perplexing. Concurrent sentences
run at the same time and allow an inmate to get prison credit for the same day on
separate sentences. The alternative is a consecutive sentence where the inmate must
complete the first sentence before he starts the second one. A concurrent sentence
allows an inmate to get out of prison sooner than he would if he served consecutive
sentences. Nevertheless, Holly makes this argument because he believes that Indiana
law did not permit a concurrent sentence in his case and therefore the sentence is void.
The Court of Appeals of Indiana found “no authority for the proposition that the
concurrent running of his federal and state sentences was improper.” DE 42-14 at 19. It
also found that even if Indiana law had required consecutive sentences, the proper
remedy would have been re-sentencing, not release. If that had happened, Holly would
spend more time in prison – clearly not the result he is looking for and clearly not a
basis for habeas corpus relief. Moreover, even if the Indiana courts have misinterpreted
Indiana law and sentenced Holly to less time than required by State statute, “federal
habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state law.” Wilson v. Corcoran, 562 U.S. 1, 5
(2010) (citing Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67 (1991) (quoting Lewis v. Jeffers, 497 U.S.
764, 780 (1990))). Being given a lesser sentence than permitted by State law does not
violate the constitution and “Federal courts may not issue writs of habeas corpus to
state prisoners whose confinement does not violate federal law.” Wilson v. Corcoran, 562
U.S. 1, 1 (2010). Therefore this claim cannot be a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Third, Holly argues that Indiana lost jurisdiction over him (and lost the authority
to enforce the criminal sentence against him) because the State delayed in returning him
to federal prison after he was convicted and sentenced in Indiana. This is how the Court
of Appeals of Indiana explained and resolved this claim:
Specifically, Holly claims that after being convicted in Allen County in
1994, he was to be immediately returned to the federal penitentiary in
Pennsylvania, but instead made multiple stops and was housed in
correctional facilities in Michigan and Ohio along the way.
The [Interstate Agreement on Detainers] IAD is codified at Indiana
Code section 35-33-10-4. Article 5(e) of the IAD provides that, “at the
earliest practicable time consonant with the purposes of this agreement,
the prisoner shall be returned to the sending state.” Ind. Code § 35-33-10-4
(emphasis added). The IAD does not require an immediate return to the
sending state, as Holly claims. Nor has Holly shown that his return to
Pennsylvania was not practicable or otherwise contrary to the purpose of
the IAD. The trial court did not err in denying Holly relief on this basis.
DE 42-14 at 19-20. Before I could grant habeas corpus relief on this claim, I would have
to find that Holly had demonstrated that the State court’s interpretation of the Interstate
Agreement on Detainers, 18 U.S.C. app. § 2, unreasonably applied “clearly established
Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States . . . . “ 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d)(1). “[I]f the circumstances of a case are only ‘similar to’ [Supreme Court]
precedents, then the state court’s decision is not ‘contrary to’ the holdings in those
cases.” Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. __, __; 135 S.Ct. 1372, 1377 (2015). Moreover, when
United States Supreme Court cases fail to give a “clear answer to the question
presented, let alone one in [the petitioner’s] favor, it cannot be said that the state court
unreasonably applied clearly established Federal law.” Wright v. Van Patten, 552 U.S.
120, 125 (2008) (quotation marks, brackets, and citation omitted). Such is the case here.
The United States Supreme Court has only mentioned this provision of the IAD one
time. Here is what said:
In concluding that objection to a specified delay may be waived, we
are mindful that the sending State may have interests distinct from those
of the prisoner and the receiving State. This case does not involve any
objection from the sending State, and we do not address what recourse the
sending State might have under the IAD when the receiving State and
prisoner agree to, and the court allows, an inordinate delay. Cf. Article
V(e)(“At the earliest practicable time consonant with the purposes of this
agreement, the prisoner shall be returned to the sending State”).
New York v. Hill, 528 U.S. 110, 118 n.3 (2000). That brief mention in a footnote gave no
guidance as to how to how promptly or directly a State must return a prisoner after the
end of trial. Neither does it even hint that doing otherwise gives rise to a basis for
habeas corpus relief or renders unenforceable the sentence imposed by the “dilatory”
State. As such, this claim is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Finally, pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, I must
decide whether to grant a certificate of appealability. To obtain a certificate of
appealability under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c), the petitioner must make a substantial showing
of the denial of a constitutional right by establishing “that reasonable jurists could
debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved
in a different manner or that the issues presented were adequate to deserve
encouragement to proceed further.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). Here, for
the reasons explained in this opinion, Holly has not made such a showing and will be
denied a certificate of appealability.
For the foregoing reasons, the habeas corpus petition is DENIED. This case is
DISMISSED. William Holly is DENIED a certificate of appealability.
ENTERED: August 10, 2015
/s/ Philip P. Simon
United States District Court
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