DIXON v. WARREN et al
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 8/31/2015. (dmr) (n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 12-3889 (JBS)
CHARLES WARREN, et al.,
DARNELL DIXON, 487146B
New Jersey State Prison
P.O. Box 861
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
Petitioner Pro Se
ESSEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR
by: Andrew Robert Burroughs, Esq.
50 West Market Street, 3rd Floor
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Attorneys for Respondents
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge
Darnell Dixon filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. ' 2254
challenging a judgment of conviction filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County, on
May 15, 1997, imposing a 30-year term of imprisonment. The State filed an Answer with the
record. After carefully reviewing the arguments of the parties and the state court record, this
Court will dismiss the Petition with prejudice as time barred and deny a certificate of appealability.
A. The Crime
Dixon challenges an aggregate 30-year term of imprisonment with ten years of parole
ineligibility imposed in May 1997 after a jury found him guilty of first-degree aggravated
manslaughter, third-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, and second-degree possession of a
handgun for an unlawful purpose. Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), state court factual findings are presumed correct unless rebutted by clear and
convincing evidence. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). As Dixon has not attempted to rebut the
factual findings of the New Jersey courts with respect to the crime, this Court will rely on those
findings. The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey described the facts
concerning the crime as follows:
Defendant's conviction stemmed from the 1995 shooting of the victim who,
according to what defendant reportedly told Michael Swann, attempted to rob him.
Another witness, Mark Willis, identified defendant as the victim's shooter.
Defendant's girlfriend and mother of his three children, Janell Barnes, testified that
defendant was at her house, located in the area where the shooting occurred, around
the time the shooting allegedly occurred. She also testified that she heard gunshots
and looked out the window, but was unable to see anything because it was foggy
and “real misty.” At that time, defendant was in the living room with the children.
Barnes's stepfather, Robert Arrington, also at Barnes's home that evening, testified
that he heard shots. He corroborated Barnes's testimony that defendant was in the
living room with the children at the time he heard the shots. Finally, one other
witness, Marcel Carter, testified that he had just completed a game of basketball
when he heard shots and saw a figure running. He was unable to determine the
gender of the person. Fearing that he might get caught in any cross-fire, he went to
Barnes's home to get a ride from defendant. He arrived at Barnes's home ten
minutes after the shooting, where he found defendant on the sofa with his children.
State v. Dixon, 2011 WL 4025733 (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., Sept. 13, 2011).
The State Court Proceedings
On June 27, 1995, a grand jury sitting in Essex County, New Jersey, indicted Dixon for the
purposeful and knowing murder of Girard Tutler on March 7, 1995, unlawful possession of a
handgun without a permit, and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. After a trial,
the jury acquitted Dixon of purposeful or knowing murder and found him guilty of lesser-included
first-degree aggravated manslaughter, third-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, and seconddegree possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. After granting the State’s motion for an
extended term as a persistent offender, the trial court imposed an aggregate 30-year term of
imprisonment, with ten years of parole ineligibility. Dixon appealed, and on November 8, 1999,
the Appellate Division affirmed. (ECF No. 9-20 at 2-9.) On March 15, 2000, the New Jersey
Supreme Court denied certification. See State v. Dixon, 163 N.J. 396 (2000) (table).
On June 5, 2000, Dixon filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the trial court. In
response to Dixon’s letter asking the trial court to set aside this petition, on March 11, 2002, the
trial court determined that Dixon had withdrawn the petition. (ECF No. 9-16.) See Dixon, 2011
WL 4025733 at *1. Dixon filed a second post-conviction relief petition in the trial court on April
11, 2006. Id. (ECF No. 9-22 at 11.) The trial court denied this second petition as untimely and
on the merits by order and accompanying opinion filed on July 3, 2008. Id. On September 13,
2011, the Appellate Division affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed by the trial court.
Id On March 14, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification. See State v. Dixon,
209 N.J. 597 (2012) (table).
C. Procedural History of § 2254 Petition
On June 20, 2012, Dixon signed his Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and handed it to
prison officials for mailing to the Clerk. (ECF No. 1 at 35.) The Petition raises the following
Ground One: IT WAS REVERSIBLE ERROR FOR THE COURT OT CHARGE
THAT SELF-DEFENSE DID NOT APPLY “IF THE DEFENDANT WAS
WRONG IN BELIEVING THAT TUTLER’S CONDUCT WAS UNLAWFUL.”
Ground Two: IT WAS REVERSIBLE ERROR FOR THE COURT TO FAIL
TO CHARGE THAT DEFENDANT HAD NO DUTY TO RETREAT IF
ATTACKED ON THE PORCH OF THE DWELLING.
Ground Three: IT WAS REVERSIBLE ERROR FOR THE COURT TO FAIL
TO INSTRUCT THAT A THREAT WITH A FAKE GUN COULD
THE CHARGE ON PASSION/PROVOCATION
MANSLAUGHTER SHIFTED THE BURDEN OF PROOF TO THE
DEFENDANT, AND CONSTITUTES REVERSIBLE ERROR.
Ground Five: IT WAS REVERSIBLE ERROR FOR THE COURT NOT TO
EXPLAIN THE SIGNIFICANCE OF IMPERFECT SELF DEFENSE.
Ground Six: PETITIONER IS ENTITLED TO POST-CONVICTION RELIEF
BECAUSE HIS TRIAL ATTORNEY RENDERED INEFFECTIVE
ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL (A) PETITIONER’S TRIAL COUNSEL
RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO
HAVE AN ESSEX COUNTY COURTHOURSE LIBRARIAN REMOVED
FROM THE PANEL[;] (B) PETITIONER’S TRIAL ATTORNEY RENDERED
The Court notified Dixon of his rights to amend the Petition to include all available federal claims
in accordance with Mason v. Meyers, 208 F.3d 414 (3d Cir. 2000), and he asked the Court to rule
on the Petition “as is.” (ECF Nos. 2, 3.)
INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO VOIR DIRE A
JUROR WHO KNEW PETITIONER[;] (C) PETITIONER’S TRIAL ATTORNEY
RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO
INVESTIGATE AND/OR SUBPOENA POTENTIAL WITNESSES TO
TRIAL[;] (D) PETITIONER’S TRIAL ATTORNEY RENDERED
INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO OBTAIN A
WEATHER REPORT FROM MARCH 7, 1995[;] (E) PETITIONER’S TRIAL
ATTORNEY RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY
FAILING TO OBJECT TO JUDGE FAST CHARGING THE JURY ON SELFDEFENSE[;] (F) PURSUANT OT STATE V. RUE, 175 N.J. 1 (2002),
PETITIONER ASSERTS THE FOLLOWING [SUPPORTING FACTS.]
Ground Seven: DEFENDANT’S TRIAL AND APPELLATE ATTORNEYS
RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO
OBJECT TO THE PROSECUTOR VOUCHING FOR THE CREDIBILITY OF
HIS WITNESSES IN HIS SUMMATION.
Ground Eight: DEFENDANT’S TRIAL AND APPELLATE ATTORNEYS
RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO
RAISE THAT THE PROSECUTOR VIOLATED THE COURT’S RULING
COMMITTING PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT AND [A] BRADY
Ground Nine: DEFENDANT’S TRIAL AND APPELLATE ATTORNEY
RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL BY FAILING TO
RAISE THAT THE PROSECUTOR[’S] REMARKS WERE NOT PROMPTLY
STRICKEN FROM THE RECORD.
Ground Ten: THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE PETITION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF TIME BARRED.
Ground Eleven: THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT[’]S
MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL AND THEREFORE
VIOLATED DEFENDANT[’]S DUE PROCESS RIGHTS BECAUSE THE
EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT TRIAL WAS INSUFFICIENT TO WARRANT A
CONVICTION OF THE CRIMES CHARGED.
(ECF No 1 at 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 23, 25, 28, 30, 32.)
The State filed an Answer arguing that the Petition is untimely, the Petition fails to state a
federal claim, several claims are procedurally defaulted, and Dixon is not entitled to habeas relief
on the merits. (ECF No. 9.)
II. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The State argues that the § 2254 Petition is time barred because Dixon’s 365-day federal
statute of limitations expired several years before he filed his § 2254 Petition. The AEDPA’s
365-day statute of limitations begins on the latest of the following dates:
(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 . . . .
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
Section 2244(d)(2) tolls the 365-day limitations period for 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). An application is “filed” when
it “is delivered to, and accepted by, the appropriate court officer for placement into the official
record.” Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4, 8 (2000) (citations omitted). An application is “properly”
filed “when its delivery and acceptance are in compliance with the applicable laws and rules
governing filings,” such as rules prescribing “the form of the document, the time limits upon its
delivery, the court and office in which it must be lodged, and the requisite filing fee.” Artuz, 531
U.S. at 8-9 (citations omitted).
Calculation of the Statute of Limitations
In this case, the statute of limitations is governed by § 2244(d)(1)(A). The New Jersey
Supreme Court denied certification on direct review on March 15, 2000, see State v. Dixon, 163
N.J. 396 (2000) (table), and the time to file a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme
Court expired 91 days later on June 14, 2000. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 132 S.Ct. 641, 653-54
(2012); Wali v. Kholi, 131 S. Ct. 1278, 1282 (2011); Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 332-333
(2007); Merritt v. Blaine, 326 F.3d 157, 161 (3d Cir. 2003). Because Dixon did not file his 2254
Petition until June 20, 2012, twelve years later, the § 2254 Petition is untimely in the absence of
statutory and/or equitable tolling for a period of eleven years.
First, Dixon’s second post-conviction relief petition, filed on April 11, 2006, and finally
decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court on March 14, 2012, did not statutorily toll the
limitations period because it was not “properly filed” within the meaning of § 2244(d)(2) where
the New Jersey courts ruled that it was untimely under New Jersey law. In Carey v. Saffold, 536
U.S. 214 (2002), the California Supreme Court denied Saffold’s post-conviction relief petition on
the merits and for lack of diligence. The Court explained that, if the California Supreme Court
had ruled that the petition was untimely, “that would be the end of the matter, regardless of whether
it also addressed the merits of the claim, or whether its timeliness ruling was ‘entangled’ with the
merits.” Id. at 226. The Court noted that there are many reasons why a state court may also
address the merits of a post-conviction application that has been found or is untimely: “for
instance, where the merits present no difficult issue; where the court wants to give a reviewing
court alternative grounds for decision; or where the court wishes to show a prisoner (who may not
have a lawyer) that it was not merely a procedural technicality that precluded him from obtaining
relief.” Id. at 225-226. Next, in Pace v. DeGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408 (2005), the Supreme Court
held what the Court had “intimated” in Saffold: “When a postconviction petition is untimely
under state law, ‘that [is] the end of the matter’ for purposes of § 2244(d)(2).” Id. at 414. The
Court went even further in Evans v. Chavis, 546 U.S. 189 (2006). In that case, the state court
merely stated that the post-conviction relief petition “is denied,” id. at 195, and the Supreme Court
held: “In the absence of . . . clear indication that a [state application] was timely or untimely, the
[federal habeas court] must itself examine the delay in each case and determine what the state
courts would have held in respect to timeliness.” Id. at 198. Finally, in Allen v. Siebert, 552
U.S. 3, 7 (2007), the Court rejected the Eleventh Circuit’s attempt to distinguish Pace on the ground
that the time bar in Alabama was not jurisdictional.
We therefore reiterate now what we held in Pace : “When a postconviction petition
is untimely under state law, ‘that [is] the end of the matter’ for purposes of §
2244(d)(2).” 544 U.S., at 414 . . . . Because Siebert's petition for state
postconviction relief was rejected as untimely by the Alabama courts, it was not
“properly filed” under § 2244(d)(2). Accordingly, he was not entitled to tolling of
AEDPA's 1–year statute of limitations.
Allen v. Siebert, 552 U.S. at 7.
In Dixon’s case, Dixon filed his second post-conviction relief application on April 11,
2006; the trial judge held that it was untimely and without merit, see Dixon, 2011 WL 4025733 at
*1 (“The court found that defendant’s petition was time-barred pursuant to Rule 3:22-12 and that
‘there has been no injustice sufficient to relax the five-year time bar of [Rule] 3:22-12.’”); and the
Appellate Division affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed by the trial court. Id. at *2.
Because the New Jersey courts rejected Dixon’s second post-conviction relief petition as untimely,
that is the end of the matter: the second petition was not “properly filed” and did not statutorily
toll the 365-day statute of limitations under § 2244(d)(2). See Allen v. Siebert, 552 U.S. at 7;
Pace, 544 U.S. at 414. Because Dixon’s second post-conviction relief petition, which was
pending in the New Jersey courts for six years, did not statutorily toll the 365-day limitations
period and Dixon did not file his § 2254 Petition until 98 days after the New Jersey Supreme Court
denied certification on the second petition,2 the § 2254 Petition was untimely.
Alternatively, even if the second post-conviction relief petition were “properly filed,” the
§ 2254 Petition would still be time barred. The Supreme Court explained the meaning of
“pending” in § 2244(d)(2) as follows:
The dictionary defines “pending” (when used as an adjective) as “in continuance”
or “not yet decided.” Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1669 (1993). It
similarly defines the term (when used as a preposition) as “through the period of
continuance ... of,” “until the ... completion of.” Ibid. That definition, applied in the
present context, means that an application is pending as long as the ordinary state
collateral review process is “in continuance”- i.e., “until the completion of” that
process. In other words, until the application has achieved final resolution through
the State's post-conviction procedures, by definition it remains “pending.”
Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 219-220 (2002).
As explained above, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification with respect to the
second post-conviction relief petition on March 14, 2012, and Dixon handed his § 2254 Petition
to prison officials on June 20, 2012.
Dixon filed his first petition for post-conviction relief in the trial court on June 5, 2000.
The trial court found that Dixon had voluntarily set aside his first petition for post-conviction relief
as of March 12, 2002, (ECF No. 9-22 at 11), and the Appellate Division did not disturb this finding.
See State v. Dixon, 2011 WL 4025733 at *1. This Court must presume the correctness of the
finding that the petition was withdrawn on March 12, 2002, unless Dixon has rebutted the state
court finding by clear and convincing evidence. 3 Because Dixon had 45 days to appeal the
withdrawal of his first petition, see N.J. Ct. R. 2:4-1(a), his first post-conviction relief petition was
“pending” from June 5, 2000, until April 26, 2002, the date on which the 45-day time limit to
appeal the March 11, 2002, withdrawal of his petition expired. See Swartz v. Meyers, 204 F.3d
417, 421 (3d Cir. 2000) (holding that “’pending’ includes the time for seeking discretionary
review, whether or not discretionary review is sought”). Accordingly, the 365-day statute of
limitations began to run on April 27, 2002, and ran for the next 365 days until it expired on
Monday, April 28, 2003. Because Dixon did not file his second post-conviction relief petition
until April 11, 2006, almost three years after the one-year statute of limitations expired, in the
absence of equitable tolling, his § 2254 Petition is untimely (even if the second post-conviction
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) (“In a proceeding instituted by an application for a writ of habeas
corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, a determination of a factual
issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct. The applicant shall have the burden
of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.”); see also MillerEl v. Dretke, 545 U.S. at 240 (holding that a district court must “presume the [state] court’s factual
findings to be sound unless [petitioner] rebuts the ‘presumption of correctness by clear and
convincing evidence.’”); Rountree v. Balicki, 640 F.3d 530, 541-42 (3d Cir. 2011) (habeas court
is “bound to presume that the state court’s factual findings are correct, with the burden on the
petitioner to rebut those findings by clear and convincing evidence.”) (quoting Simmons v. Beard,
590 F.3d 223, 231 (3d Cir. 2009)).
relief petition were properly filed). See Long v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 394-95 (3d Cir. 2004)
(state post conviction review petition had no effect on tolling because the limitations period had
already run when it was filed); Schlueter v. Varner, 384 F.3d 69, 78-79 (3d Cir. 2004) (same).
Dixon appears to argue that his first petition for post-conviction was pending longer than
this. Dixon contends in his § 2254 Petition that the trial court, “erroneously withdrew the June 5,
2000 Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and neither the Court nor Mr. Meltzer advised the
defendant that the PCR had been withdrawn or that he had to file another brief and do so within a
specified time frame.” (ECF No. 1 at 31.) He further states that “[b]etween 2002 and 2006, a
number of attorneys from the [Office of the Public Defender] were assigned to represent [him] in
connection with the petition, but nothing was ever filed,” and he “ultimately attempted to remedy
the situation by filing the April 11, 2006, petition, and the case was assigned to another attorney,
Michael G. Paul.” Id.
The transcript dated March 11, 2002, establishes that the trial court considered Dixon’s
first petition for post-conviction relief on that date. (ECF No. 9-16.) The judge read into the
record the contents of Dixon’s letter to the clerk of the court dated February 9, 2002:
Please accept this correspondence as my formal request that the motion for postconviction relief presently pending before the Court, submitted by Mr. Harvey R.
Meltzer, Esq. on my behalf, be set aside. I am in the process of filing an attorney
grievance for failing to comply with the rules of professional conduct. There is no
communication with the attorney who submitted the motion and myself. He failed
to raise issues that are a matter of record and entitle me to relief. I will be filing
a supplemental brief broaching the issues which were not raised by Mr. Meltzer in
his brief. If there is a time criteria for filing the supplemental brief, please notify
me of such. By receipt of this correspondence, I will contact the judge assigned
and the prosecuting attorney, as well as the attorney himself. If it is necessary for
me to file a formal motion seeking an order for this injunctive relief, please notify
me in writing. I thank the Court for this consideration.
(ECF No. 9-16 at 3-4.) The trial judge then stated that he considered “the motion for postconviction relief to have been with- - it’s set aside, technically withdrawn. I will not address the
merits. And it’s withdrawn, of course, without prejudice since it’s not on the merits.” (ECF No.
9-16 at 7.)
Dixon has produced no evidence, let alone clear and convincing evidence, showing that he
did not ask the trial court to set aside his first post-conviction relief petition. Nor has he produced
evidence indicating that his first post-conviction relief petition remained “pending” after April 26,
2002. Because the New Jersey courts found that Dixon withdrew his first post-conviction relief
petition on March 12, 2002, and Dixon has not rebutted this finding by clear and convincing
evidence, this Court finds that the first petition was pending, and the one-year statute of limitations
was statutorily tolled, from June 6, 2000, until April 26, 2002, when the time to appeal the March
12, 2002, withdrawal of Dixon’s first post-conviction relief petition expired. In the absence of
equitable tolling, the statute of limitations expired on April 28, 2003, long before Dixon filed his
§ 2254 Petition.
Is Equitable Tolling Warranted?
Although Dixon does not argue that equitable tolling is warranted, the Court will consider
the issue sua sponte, as the one year statute of limitations is subject to equitable tolling. See
McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1931 (2013); Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010);
Ross v. Varano, 712 F.3d 784, 798-800 (3d Cir. 2013). A court extends the remedy of equitable
tolling “sparingly,” when “principles of equity would make the rigid application of a limitation
period unfair.” Jenkins v. Superintendent of Laurel Highlands, 705 F.3d 80, 89 (3d Cir. 2013)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A habeas “’petitioner is entitled to equitable
tolling only if he shows (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some
extraordinary circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely filing.’” McQuiggin, 133 S.Ct.
at 1931 (quoting Holland, 560 U.S. at 649) (internal quotation marks omitted). A court must
“exercise judgment in light of prior precedent, but with awareness of the fact that specific
circumstances, often hard to predict in advance, could warrant special treatment in an appropriate
case.” Holland, 560 U.S. at 650.
Although “a garden variety claim of excusable neglect, such as a simple miscalculation
that leads a lawyer to miss a filing deadline, does not warrant equitable tolling,” Holland, 569
U.S. at 652 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted), extraordinary circumstances may be
found “for ‘serious instances of attorney misconduct.’” Christenson v. Roper, 135 S.Ct. 891, 894
(2015) (quoting Holland, 560 U.S. at 651-52). Other potentially extraordinary situations may be
found on the basis of the petitioner’s “inability to read or understand English, combined with denial
of access to translation or legal assistance,” Pabon v. Mahanoy, 654 F.3d 385, 400 (3d Cir. 2011),
and “where a court has misled a party regarding the steps that the party needs to take to preserve a
claim.” Munchinski v. Wilson, 694 F.3d 308, 329-330 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Brinson v.
Vaughn, 398 F.3d 225, 230 (3d Cir. 2005)).
As previously stated, Dixon filed his second petition for post-conviction relief on April 11,
2006. Upon consideration of the second post-conviction relief petition, the trial judge found that
the “purported failures of trial counsel alleged in the submissions in support of [Dixon’s second
post-conviction relief] application and the protracted representation by a succession of attorneys,
whether employed or designated, through the Office of the Public Defender do not excuse the
neglect which delayed the filing of this petition.”
(ECF No. 9-22 at 11.) The trial court
determined that the “long neglect” - from March 2002 until April 2006 - was not excusable and
held that the second petition was time barred. Id. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial
court’s dismissal of the second post-conviction relief petition “substantially for the reasons
expressed by Judge Michael A. Petrolle in his thorough and well-reasoned opinion of July 3,
2008.” Dixon, 2011 WL 4025733 at *2.
The record in this case does not show that serious attorney misconduct prevented Dixon
from timely filing. Nor does the record establish that the state trial court misled Dixon when it
determined on March 12, 2002, that he had voluntarily withdrawn the first post-conviction relief
petition based on his February 9, 2002, letter formally asking the court to set aside the first petition.
Thus, nothing before this Court indicates that extraordinary circumstances prevented Dixon from
timely asserting his rights. To the contrary, it can be inferred from the record that Dixon did not
diligently pursue his rights after he sent the February 9, 2002, letter to the trial court. Dixon states
that the trial court did not inform him that it had set aside his first petition for post-conviction relief
on March 12, 2002 (in accordance with his letter request), but nothing presented to this Court
indicates that Dixon followed up with the trial court or attempted to find out what the court did in
response to his letter asking to set the first petition aside until April 11, 2006, when he filed his
second petition for post-conviction relief. This chain of events does not show that Dixon was
diligently pursuing his rights.
To summarize, the record does not show that Dixon was pursuing his rights diligently or
that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely filing of his § 2254
Petition. See McQuiggin, 133 S.Ct. at 1931; Holland, 560 U.S. at 649). After reviewing the
record in this case and, in particular, the state court opinions on post-conviction relief, this Court
discerns no basis for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. Because Dixon filed his § 2254
Petition after the 365-day statute of limitations expired and he has not shown that extraordinary
circumstances prevented him from timely filing his § 2254 Petition and that he pursued his rights
diligently, this Court will dismiss the Petition as time barred.
III. CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
The AEDPA provides that an appeal may not be taken to the court of appeals from a final order
in a § 2254 proceeding unless a judge issues a certificate of appealability on the ground that “the
applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2). This Court denies a certificate of appealability because jurists of reason would not find it
debatable that dismissal of the Petition as time barred is correct. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S.
473, 484 (2000).
This Court dismisses the Petition with prejudice and denies a certificate of appealability.
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Dated: August 31, 2015
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