Hall v. Hejerika
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Richard D Bennett on 4/10/2015. (c/m 4/20/15 bas, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
JEREMIAH BROWN HALL, #342-789
CIVIL ACTION NO. RDB-14-2907
WARDEN SOLOMAN HEJERIKA
Respondent moves to dismiss Jeremiah Brown Hall’s Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus as time-barred pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 2244(d). (ECF No. 15). Hall has responded,
arguing that he is entitled to equitable tolling because post-conviction counsel delayed obtaining
transcripts and reviewing the merits of his claims.1 He has supplemented his equitable tolling
response, as ordered, by providing a copy of the form letter sent to him by the Collateral Review
Division of the Officer of the Public Defender, explaining the one-year federal limitations period
to state prisoners. (ECF No. 20). After reviewing these papers, the Court finds no need for an
evidentiary hearing. See Rule 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts; see also 28 U.S.C. '2254(e)(2). For reasons set forth herein, the Court shall
DISMISS the Petition as time-barred and DENY a Certificate of Appealability.
On January 11, 2007, Hall pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County
to one count of kidnaping and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. (ECF No. 151, p. 9). On March 27, 2007, Hall was sentenced to 50 years of incarceration, all but 15 years
suspended, and five years of probation. (Id., p. 10). Hall did not file an application for leave to
appeal the entry of his guilty plea and sentence; thus, his judgment of conviction became final on
Counsel ultimately determined Hall’s claims were without merit, and declined to prepare a petition for
him, instead agreeing only to represent him at his post-conviction hearing. (ECF No. 17-1, pp. 1-4).
April 26, 2007, when the time for doing so expired. See Md. Code. Ann., Cts & Jud. Proc. Art.,
§12-302(e) (1997) (appeal of guilty plea is by way of application for leave to appeal); Md. Rule
8-204(b) (application for leave to appeal must be filed within 30 days after entry of judgment or
order from which appeal is sought).
On July 15, 2010, Hall filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Circuit Court for
Prince George’s County. (ECF No. 15-1, p. 11) Post-conviction relief was denied by the Circuit
Court on June 8, 2012. (Id., p. 14). Hall filed an application for leave to appeal this ruling,
which was summarily denied by the Court of Special Appeals in an unreported opinion filed on
February 5, 2013. The Court’s mandate issued on March 11, 2013. (Id.; see also ECF No. 152).
Hall seeks federal habeas corpus relief by asserting that the Circuit Court lacked subject
matter jurisdiction because the armed robbery involved a bank. Judicial misconduct and the
involuntary nature of the plea also are alleged. (ECF 1, p. 4). The Certificate of Service
accompanying his Petition is signed September 9, 2014 (ECF 1-5), and the Petition is deemed
filed on that date. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988); Lewis v. Richmond City Police
Department, 947 F.2d 733, 734-35 (4th Cir. 1991); United States v. Dorsey, 988 F. Supp. 917,
919-920 (D. Md. 1998).
The one-year period which applies to habeas petitions begins to run on the date on which
the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or (if no appeal is taken) upon the
expiration of the time for seeking such review. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Here, the
limitations period began to run on April 26, 2007, and expired one year later, on April 2, 2008.
Clearly, Hall failed to seek federal habeas corpus relief in a timely manner and cannot
claim entitlement to statutory tolling of the limitations period. In order to be entitled to equitable
tolling, Hall must establish that either some wrongful conduct by Respondent contributed to the
delay in filing and completing state post-conviction review and thereafter in promptly seeking
federal habeas corpus relief, or that circumstances beyond his control caused the delay. See
Rouse v. Lee, 339 F. 3d 238, 246 (4th Cir. 2003); Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F. 3d 325, 328 (4th
Cir. 2000). A[A]ny resort to equity must be reserved for those rare instances where . . . it would
be unconscionable to enforce the limitation period against the party and gross injustice would
Nothing in the record suggests that misconduct on the part of the Respondents or some
extraordinary circumstance prevented Hall from timely completing post-conviction relief with
regard to the validity of his guilty plea. Indeed, Hall was informed of the one-year limitations
period in correspondence provided by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender at the time
Hall contacted that office to request assistance in order to pursue state post-conviction relief. To
the extent delay in completing post-conviction review might be attributed to his lack of
understanding of the law, unfamiliarity with the law may not be used to justify equitable tolling.
See United States v. Sosa, 364 F.3d 507, 512 (4th Cir. 2004).
Hall has failed to satisfy his burden to demonstrate that equitable tolling is warranted, and
his claims for habeas corpus relief are time-barred. For the reasons stated herein, the Court will
deny and dismiss the Petition. A Certificate of Appealability will not issue because Hall has not
made a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.”2 A separate Order follows.
When a district court dismisses a habeas petition solely on procedural grounds, a Certificate of Appealability will
not issue unless the petitioner can demonstrate both “(1) ‘that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the
petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right’ and (2) ‘that jurists of reason would find it
debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling.’ ” Rouse v. Lee, 252 F.3d 676, 684 (4th Cir.
2001) (quoting Slack v. Daniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). Denial of a Certificate of Appealability in the district
court does not preclude Hall from requesting a Certificate of Appealability from the appellate court.
April 20, 2015
RICHARD D. BENNETT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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