Saintignon v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER: The Court DENIES the amended petition (ECF 24) pursuant to Section 2254 Habeas Corpus Rule 4 because it is untimely; DENIES Danny L. Saintignon a certificate of appealability pursuant to Section 2254 Habeas Corpus Rule 11; DENIES Danny L. Saintignon leave to appeal in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); and DIRECTS the Clerk to close this case. Signed by Judge Philip P Simon on 2/7/18. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(ksp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
DANNY L. SAINTIGNON,
CAUSE NO. 3:16-CV-462 PPS
OPINION AND ORDER
Danny L. Saintignon, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an amended habeas
corpus petition to challenge his conviction for felony murder, child molestation, and
incest under cause number 49G03-9002-CF-15824. Following a jury trial, on August 9,
1991, the Marion Superior Court sentenced Saintignon to a total of 177 years of
incarceration but later reduced his sentence to 127 years. Saintignon argues that: (1) he
was denied effective assistance of counsel when he was sentenced and received a
disproportionately harsh sentence; (2) the trial court violated his right against double
jeopardy by enhancing his sentence based on aggravating factors and by ordering
Saintignon to serve his sentences consecutively; (3) he was procedurally defaulted
because DNA testing was unavailable at the time of his trial; and (4) he was denied
effective assistance of counsel at the post-conviction relief stage.
Respondent argues that Saintignon’s claims are untimely. The statute of
limitations for habeas corpus cases is articulated in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), which provides:
(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 review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or
claims presented could have been discovered through the
exercise of due diligence.
(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.
Respondent argues that only 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) applies to Saintignon’s
claims. On direct appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed Saintignon’s conviction
on June 29, 1993. ECF 7-5. Saintignon’s conviction became final when the time for
petitioning the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari expired on
September 27, 1993. See U.S. Sup. Ct. R. 13(1) (petition for writs of certiorari must filed
within 90 days after entry of judgment); Jimenez v. Quarterman, 555 U.S. 113, 119 (2009)
(when a state prisoner does not petition the United States Supreme Court on direct
appeal, his conviction becomes final when the time for filing a petition expires).
However, “[f]or a prisoner whose judgment became final before [the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)] was enacted, the one-year limitations
period runs from the AEDPA’s effective date: April 24, 1996.” Wood v. Milyard, 566 U.S.
463, 468 (2012). Therefore, the operative date for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) is
April 24, 1996.
Saintignon alleges that his habeas petition is timely under 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1)(B) because the State provided him with ineffective counsel at trial and at the
post-conviction relief stage. However, even assuming that Saintignon received
ineffective assistance of counsel at these stages, he does not explain how this prevented
him from filing an otherwise timely habeas petition in federal court. Saintignon also
alleges that his habeas petition is timely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(C) based on Brown
v. Brown, 847 F.3d 502 (7th Cir. 2017). In Brown, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
held that the Martinez-Trevino doctrine applied to post-conviction relief proceedings
under Indiana law. Id. at 512-13. As a result, for Indiana prisoners, “a procedural default
will not bar a federal habeas court from hearing a substantial claim of ineffective
assistance at trial if, in the initial-review collateral proceeding, there was no counsel or
counsel in that proceeding was ineffective.” Id. at 509. However, 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1)(C) does not apply to Brown because no new constitutional right was
recognized in Brown and because Brown was decided by the Seventh Circuit rather than
the Supreme Court. Additionally, though the Supreme Court did decide Martinez v.
Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012) and Trevino v. Thaler, 569 U.S. 413 (2013), their holdings
constitute “equitable rulings” rather the recognition of a constitutional right. Martinez,
566 U.S. at 16. Moreover, Saintignon does not assert that his petition is timely based on
a recently discovered factual predicate. Therefore, only 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) applies
to Saintignon’s claims.
Thus the federal limitations period began to run on the date when Saintignon's
conviction became final: April 24, 1996. The limitations period expired one year later, on
April 24, 1997. Though Saintignon subsequently filed other challenges to his conviction
in State court, these filings did not restart the federal limitations period, nor did they
“open a new window for federal collateral review.” De Jesus v. Acevedo, 567 F.3d 941,
943 (7th Cir. 2009). When Saintignon filed his petition on July 14, 2016, he was more
than twenty years too late. Accordingly, Saintignon’s petition is untimely and is
Pursuant to Section 2254 Habeas Corpus Rule 11, I must consider whether to
grant or deny a certificate of appealability. To obtain a certificate of appealability when
a petition is dismissed on procedural grounds, the petitioner must show that reasonable
jurists would find it debatable (1) whether the court was correct in its procedural ruling
and (2) whether the petition states a valid claim for denial of a constitutional right. Slack
v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). Here, there is no basis for finding that reasonable
jurists would debate the correctness of this procedural ruling.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) DENIES the amended petition (ECF 24) pursuant to Section 2254 Habeas
Corpus Rule 4 because it is untimely;
(2) DENIES Danny L. Saintignon a certificate of appealability pursuant to Section
2254 Habeas Corpus Rule 11;
(3) DENIES Danny L. Saintignon leave to appeal in forma pauperis pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); and
(4) DIRECTS the Clerk to close this case.
SO ORDERED on February 7, 2018.
/s/ Philip P. Simon
United States District Court
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