Hollins v. United States of America
OPINION ; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, kcb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
TREMAYNE LAMAR HOLLINS,
File No. 1:10-cv-768
HON. ROBERT HOLMES BELL
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
This matter comes before the Court on Movant Tremayne Lamar Hollins’s motion
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence.
Movant was indicted on January 1, 2007, on the following charge: conspiracy to
possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine
powder, 50 grams of cocaine base, and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846. United States v. Shank, et. al, Case No. 1:07-cr-6-4.
Movant pleaded guilty on August 10, 2007, and was sentenced on November 16, 2007, to a
term of 120 months’ imprisonment. (1:07-cr-6-4, Dkt. No. 394, J.) Movant did not appeal,
and filed his § 2255 motion on August 3, 2010. (Dkt. No. 1.)
In its response, the government contends that Movant’s motion is untimely. (Dkt. No.
12). Upon this Court’s consideration of the motion, it plainly appears that Movant is not
entitled to relief. A threshold issue for § 2255 motions is whether the motion is filed within
the one-year limitation period:
(f) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to a motion under this section. The
limitation period shall run from the latest of—
(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by
governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United
States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the
Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court
and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could
have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).
In most cases, the one-year statute of limitations runs from the date on which the
judgment of conviction becomes final. Judgment was entered in this case on November 20,
2007. (1:07-cr-6-4, Dkt. No. 394, J.) Because there was no direct appeal, the judgment of
conviction became final when the time for filing a direct appeal expired, which was ten days
after the entry of judgment, or on or about November 30, 2007.1 Movant had one year in
which to timely file a motion under § 2255. This period expired on November 30, 2008.
The instant motion was filed on August 3, 2010, nearly one year and ten months after the
statute of limitations expired.
Accordingly, absent equitable tolling of the statute of
limitations period, Movant’s action is time-barred.
See Sanchez-Castellano v. United States, 358 F.3d 424, 426 (6th Cir. 2004).
The one-year statute of limitations contained in § 2255 is not jurisdictional and it is
subject to equitable tolling. Dunlap v. United States, 250 F.3d 1001, 1007 (6th Cir. 2001).
A court “must accord the parties fair notice and an opportunity to present their positions”
before a petition is dismissed sua sponte on statute of limitations grounds. Day v.
McDonough, 547 U.S. 198, 210 (2006). This Court, on November 8, 2011, notified Movant
of the government’s response to his motion, providing notice that the time-bar issue was
possible in his case. (1:10-cv-768, Dkt. No. 14.) Movant was given 14 days to reply, amend,
and/or supplement the motion, but did not do so.
The applicable limitations period is subject to equitable tolling, allowing courts to
“toll a statute of limitations when a litigant’s failure to meet a legally-mandated deadline
unavoidably arose from circumstances beyond that litigant’s control.” Hall v. Warden,
Lebanon Corr. Inst., --- F.3d ---, 2011 WL 5965837 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Robertson v.
Simpson, 624 F.3d 781, 783 (6th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted)); see Holland
v. Florida, 130 S. Ct. 2549, 2560 (2010).
Equitable tolling is granted “sparingly.”
Robertson, 624 F.3d at 784. A movant in a habeas petition is entitled to equitable tolling
only if two requirements are met. First, the movant must establish “that he has been pursuing
his rights diligently.” Holland, 130 S. Ct. at 2562 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Second, the movant must also show “that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way
and prevented timely filing.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
In his motion, Movant explains that he was abandoned by his attorneys, including one
who had promised to “file a post sentencing motion” (Dkt. No. 2, Mem. 6.) Movant adds
that equitable tolling should apply because of the attorney’s broken promises and
misrepresentations upon which he relied. (Dkt. No. 2, Mem. 6-7.) Movant’s explanations
fail to show either that he was diligently pursuing his rights or that extraordinary
circumstances beyond his control prevented him from filing in a timely manner.
In support of his equitable tolling argument, Movant cites United States v. Martin, 408
F.3d 1089, 1095-96 (8th Cir. 2005), and United States v. Wynn, 292 F.3d 226, 230 (5th Cir.
2002). In Martin, the Eighth Circuit held that, although “[i]neffective assistance of counsel,
where it is due to an attorney’s negligence or mistake, has not generally been considered an
extraordinary circumstance . . . serious attorney misconduct, as opposed to mere negligence,
‘may warrant equitable tolling.’” 408 F.3d at 1093. Likewise, in Wynn, the Fifth Circuit
held that “allegations that he was deceived by his attorney into believing that a timely § 2255
motion had been filed on his behalf presents a ‘rare and extraordinary circumstance’ beyond
petitioner’s control that could warrant equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.” 292
F.3d at 230. Both of these cases present circumstances clearly distinguishable from those in
Movant’s case. Martin and Wynn involve express misrepresentations on counsel’s behalf.
See Martin, 204 F.3d at 1090-01; Wynn, 292 F.3d at 228-29.
Movant has failed to meet the burden necessary to show either extraordinary
circumstances or due diligence. Movant claims only that Counsel represented the intent to
file a motion and that Movant had yet to receive any filings. (Dkt. No. 2, Mem. 6.) He does
not provide further contact from Counsel beyond a November 24, 2008 letter indicating
acknowledgment of the case, and cannot show egregious conduct on Counsel’s behalf which
would constitute extraordinary circumstances. Movant has also failed to show what steps he
himself took in diligent pursuit of his § 2255 claim. “[T]he party seeking equitable tolling
must have acted with reasonable diligence throughout the period he needs to toll.” Smith v.
McGinnis, 208 F.3d 13, 17 (2d Cir. 2010). Movant has not shown why he failed to take any
steps towards filing a motion in the nearly two years between the filing deadline and his
eventual date of filing. “Absent a satisfactory explanation for his failure to timely file his
habeas petition, Petitioner has failed to exercise due diligence in pursuing his claim.”
Dunlap, 250 F.3d at 1010. Because Movant did not act with reasonable diligence in pursuing
his claim, he is not entitled to tolling of the statute of limitations.
Accordingly, no evidentiary hearing is required and Movant’s motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence will be dismissed as time-barred.
Pursuant to 28 US.C. § 2253(c), the Court must also assess whether to issue a
certificate of appealability to Movant. To warrant a grant of a certificate of appealability,
Movant “must demonstrate that reasonable jurists would find the district court’s assessment
of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484
(2000). The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has disapproved of the issuance of blanket
denials of a certificate of appealability. Murphy v. Ohio, 263 F.3d 466, 467 (6th Cir. 2001).
Rather, the district court must “engage in a reasoned assessment of each claim” to determine
whether a certificate is warranted. Id. Upon review, the Court does not believe that
reasonable jurists would find its assessment of Movant’s claims to be debatable or wrong.
Accordingly, a certificate of appealability will also be denied as to each claim.
An order and judgment consistent with this opinion shall be entered.
Dated: December 7, 2011
/s/ Robert Holmes Bell
ROBERT HOLMES BELL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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