Adams v. Hall
MEMORANDUM in support of the following Judgment Order. Signed by District Judge Curtis L Collier on 2/17/21. (c/m Shannon T Adams 254244 HARDEMAN COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY P.O. Box 549 Whiteville, TN 38075) (ADA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
SHANNON T. ADAMS,
This is a prisoner’s pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 challenging two Cocke County, Tennessee, convictions from March 13, 2006 [Doc. 2].
Now before the Court are Petitioner Shannon T. Adams’s motion for documents [Doc. 12] and
Respondent Hilton Hall’s motion to dismiss the petition as time-barred [Doc. 17]. In support of
the motion to dismiss, Respondent filed a memorandum [Doc. 18] and the state-court record [Doc.
16]. Petitioner filed a response in opposition to Respondent’s motion to dismiss [Doc. 19].
Respondent did not file a reply, and his time to do so has passed. See E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1(a).
For the reasons set forth below, Respondent’s motion to dismiss [Doc. 17] will be GRANTED,
this action will be DISMISSED, and Petitioner’s motion for documents [Doc. 12] will be
DENIED AS MOOT.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) provides a
one-year statute of limitations for a petitioner to file an application for a federal writ of habeas
corpus. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The statute specifically provides, in relevant part, that the
one-year statute of limitation runs from “the date on which the judgment became final by the
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conclusion of direct review”
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). However, 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2).
On March 13, 2006, Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder [Doc. 16-1
at 98; Doc. 16-2 at 116]. These convictions became final on April 13, 2006, the day on which
Petitioner’s time to file a direct appeal expired. See, e.g., Feenin v. Myers, 110 F. App’x 669, 671
(6th Cir. 2004) (citing Tenn. R. App. P. 4(a)) (providing that where the Tennessee habeas petitioner
did not pursue a direct appeal, his state court conviction was deemed “final” when the thirty-day
time-period in which he could have done so expired)). The AEDPA statute of limitations began
to run the next day, on April 14, 2006, and expired a year and two days later on April 16, 2007, as
Petitioner did not file any collateral state-court actions to pause the AEDPA clock or a federal
petition for habeas corpus during that time. Accordingly, Petitioner’s § 2254 petition, which he
filed on September 29, 2020 [Doc. 2 at 12], is untimely.
The AEDPA statute of limitations is not jurisdictional, however, and is subject to equitable
tolling. Holland v. Fla., 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010). Equitable tolling is warranted where a
petitioner shows that he has diligently pursued his rights but an extraordinary circumstance
prevented him from timely filing the petition. Id. at 649. A petitioner bears the burden to
demonstrate he is entitled to equitable tolling, Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005),
and federal courts should grant equitable tolling sparingly. Souter v. Jones, 395 F.3d 577, 588 (6th
Cir. 2005); see also Graham-Humphreys v. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Inc., 209 F.3d 552,
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561 (6th Cir. 2000) (“Absent compelling equitable considerations, a court should not extend
limitations by even a single day.”).
In his petition, Petitioner asserts that his habeas corpus petition is timely because he “was
never advised of any such rights” [Doc. 2 at 11], presumably referring to his right to file a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus. Also, in his response in opposition to Respondent’s motion to dismiss,
Petitioner asserts that his counsel in the underlying state-court criminal proceeding never advised
him of his right to file an appeal or other post-conviction motion, but rather advised him that the
matter was final [Doc. 19 at 1–2].
These allegations are insufficient to entitle Petitioner to equitable tolling of the AEDPA
statute of limitations. Petitioner has failed to establish that he diligently pursued his right to file a
habeas corpus petition during the more than fourteen years that followed his conviction becoming
final. See Griffin v. Rogers, 399 F.3d 626, 637 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Rose v. Dole, 945 F.2d
1331, 1335 (6th Cir. 1991)) (holding “ignorance of the law alone is not sufficient to warrant
equitable tolling”); see also Winkfield v. Bagley, 66 F. App’x 578, 582–83 (6th Cir. 2003) (finding
that, even where counsel “actively misled” the petitioner about the status of his state-court
proceedings, the petitioner was not entitled to equitable tolling because he failed to show that he
diligently pursued his rights under § 2254 in the following ten years).
Accordingly, Petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to equitable tolling of the
statute of limitations, his § 2254 petition is time-barred, Respondent’s motion to dismiss the
petition [Doc. 17] will be GRANTED, and this action will be DISMISSED.
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
The Court next must consider whether to issue a certificate of appealability (“COA”),
should Petitioner file a notice of appeal. A petitioner may appeal a final order in a § 2254 case
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only if he is issued a COA, and a COA should issue only where the petitioner has made a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c). Where the
Court rejects the § 2254 petition on a procedural basis, a COA shall issue only where reasonable
jurists would debate the correctness of the Court’s ruling. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 483–
84 (2000); Porterfield v. Bell, 258 F.3d 484, 485–86 (6th Cir. 2001). As reasonable jurists would
not debate the Court’s ruling that the § 2254 petition is time-barred and Petitioner is not entitled
to equitable tolling, a COA will not issue.
For the reasons set forth above, Respondent’s motion to dismiss the petition as time-barred
[Doc. 17] will be GRANTED, this action will be DISMISSED, a COA will not issue, and
Petitioner’s motion for documents [Doc. 12] will be DENIED AS MOOT.
CERTIFIES that any appeal from this action would not be taken in good faith and would be totally
frivolous. See Fed. R. App. P. 24.
AN APPROPRIATE ORDER WILL ENTER.
CURTIS L. COLLIER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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