Johnson v. Director, TDCJ-CID
MEMORANDUM ORDER OVERRULING PETITIONER'S OBJECTIONS AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION that the petition be dismissed as barred by limitations. Signed by District Judge Marcia A. Crone on 3/12/18. (mrp, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SERENA LOUISE JOHNSON,
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:17-CV-237
MEMORANDUM ORDER OVERRULING PETITIONER’S OBJECTIONS AND
ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Petitioner Serena Louise Johnson, an inmate confined at the Crain Unit, proceeding pro
se, brought this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
The court referred this matter to the Honorable Keith F. Giblin, United States Magistrate
Judge, at Beaumont, Texas, for consideration pursuant to applicable laws and orders of this court.
The magistrate judge recommends that the petition be dismissed as barred by limitations.
The court has received and considered the Report and Recommendation of United States
Magistrate Judge, along with the record, pleadings and all available evidence. Petitioner filed
objections to the magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation.
The court has conducted a de novo review of the objections in relation to the pleadings and
the applicable law. See FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b). After careful consideration, the Court concludes
petitioner’s objections are without merit.
In her objections, petitioner contends she was a psychiatric patient and on psychotropic
medication at the time of the offense for which she was convicted. Additionally, in her petition,
petitioner claimed she has been a mental health patient most of her life. In certain circumstances,
mental incompetency might support equitable tolling of the limitations period. See Fisher v.
Johnson, 174 F. 3d 710, 714 (5th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1164 (2001). Therefore,
interpreted liberally, petitioner’s objections are construed as a request for equitable tolling.
The one-year limitations period in section 2244(d) is subject to equitable tolling in
appropriate cases. See Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 2560, 177
L.Ed.2d 130 (2010). “[A] 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.” Id., at 649. In Holland, the Court defines “diligence” for
these purposes as “reasonable diligence, not maximum feasible diligence.”
Id. at 653.
However, “equity is not intended for those who sleep on their rights.” Mathis v. Thaler, 616
F.3d 461, 474 (5th Cir. 2010).
After careful consideration, the Court concludes petitioner has failed to demonstrate she
is entitled to equitable tolling. While petitioner contends she was a psychiatric patient and on
psychotropic medication at the time of the offense and has been a mental health patient most of her
life, she has not claimed mental illness or incapacitation prevented her from pursuing her habeas
corpus remedies. In fact, a review of her state habeas application reveals petitioner filed her first
state habeas application pro se on May 4, 2015. See Ex parte Johnson, WR-83,244-01. The
application was denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on September 9, 2015.
Considering the facts presented in this case, petitioner’s claims more closely resemble
garden variety claims of excusable neglect, falling short of showing extraordinary circumstances
necessary to support equitable tolling. See United States v. Wheaton, 826 F.3d 843, 851-53 (5th
Cir. 2016); United States v. Petty, 530 F.3d 361, 365-66 (5th Cir. 2008). Neither a party’s
“unfamiliarity with the legal process nor his lack of representation during the applicable filing
period” warrants equitable tolling. Turner v. Johnson, 177 F.3d 390, 392 (5th Cir. 1999).
Further, attorney negligence alone does not suffice. Holland, 560 U.S. at 651-52. As petitioner
has failed to show extraordinary circumstances, petitioner is not entitled to tolling for the period
of time from the expiration of her one-year limitations period until the date her state application
was filed, May 5, 2015.
Additionally, a state application for writ of habeas corpus which is filed after the federal
limitations period has expired does not revive any portion of the fully-expired limitations period.
See Villegas v. Johnson, 184 F.3d 467, 472 (5th Cir. 1999). Thus, petitioner’s state application
did not serve to toll the limitations period.
Moreover, petitioner failed to diligently pursue her remedies following the denial of her
state application for writ of habeas corpus, waiting over twenty months after denial of the
application before she filed this petition on June 1, 2017. Accordingly, petitioner has not
presented the existence of rare and extraordinary circumstances as to warrant equitable tolling, and
this petition is barred by limitations.
Furthermore, petitioner is not entitled to the issuance of a certificate of appealability. An
appeal from a judgment denying federal habeas corpus relief may not proceed unless a judge issues
a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253; FED. R. APP. P. 22(b). The standard for
granting a certificate of appealability, like that for granting a certificate of probable cause to appeal
under prior law, requires the petitioner to make a substantial showing of the denial of a federal
constitutional right. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 483-84 (2000); Elizalde v. Dretke, 362
F.3d 323, 328 (5th Cir. 2004); see also Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 893 (1982). In making
that substantial showing, the petitioner need not establish that he should prevail on the merits.
Rather, he must demonstrate that the issues are subject to debate among jurists of reason, that a
court could resolve the issues in a different manner, or that the questions presented are worthy of
encouragement to proceed further. See Slack, 529 U.S. at 483-84. Any doubt regarding whether
to grant a certificate of appealability is resolved in favor of the petitioner, and the severity of the
penalty may be considered in making this determination. See Miller v. Johnson, 200 F.3d 274,
280-81 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 849 (2000).
Here, the petitioner has not shown that any of the issues raised by his claims are subject
to debate among jurists of reason. The factual and legal questions advanced by the petitioner are
not novel and have been consistently resolved adversely to his position. In addition, the questions
presented are not worthy of encouragement to proceed further. Thus, the petitioner has failed to
make a sufficient showing to merit the issuance of a certificate of appealability. Therefore, a
certificate of appealability shall not be issued.
Accordingly, Petitioner’s objections are OVERRULED.
The findings of fact and
conclusions of law of the magistrate judge are correct, and the report of the magistrate judge is
ADOPTED. A final judgment will be entered in this case in accordance with the magistrate
SIGNED at Beaumont, Texas, this 7th day of September, 2004.
SIGNED at Beaumont, Texas, this 12th day of March, 2018.
MARCIA A. CRONE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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