Eaglin v. Stephens
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, granting 33 Motion for summary judgment. Petitioner Lawrence Eaglins petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Doc. # 1) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; No Certificate of Appealability shall issue(Signed by Judge Kenneth M Hoyt) Parties notified.(jdav, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
February 14, 2018
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:14-CV-1793
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Petitioner Lawrence Eaglin pled guilty to burglary of a habitation with intent to commit
sexual assault in the 209th District Court of Harris County, Texas. That court sentenced him to
35 years imprisonment.
This case is before the Court on Eaglin’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus and
respondent Lorie Davis’ motion to dismiss which, as explained below, the Court will treat as a
motion for summary judgment. Having carefully considered the petition, the motion, Eaglin’s
response to the motion, all the arguments, evidence, and authorities submitted by the parties, and
the entire record, the Court is of the opinion that respondent’s motion should be granted.
Eaglin filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus contending that he has been
improperly denied release to mandatory supervision, and that he has been denied the benefit of
earned time credits. Eaglin does not challenge his conviction or sentence.
On June 18, 2015, this Court dismissed Eaglin’s petition as time-barred and,
alternatively, on the grounds that Eaglin was not entitled to mandatory supervision.
September 6, 2016, the Fifth Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded the case to this Court
for further proceedings on both Eaglin’s eligibility for mandatory supervision, and whether his
petition is timely. Eaglin v. Davis, No. 15-20361 (5th Cir. Sept. 7, 2016).
This Court ordered supplemental briefing following the remand, and granted in part the
respondent’s motion to dismiss regarding Eaglin’s eligibility for mandatory supervision. An
issue concerning the calculation of Eaglin’s time credits following the revocation of his parole
remained. The Court ordered supplemental briefing on this issue. Respondent now seeks
dismissal of the remaining claim. Eaglin opposes the motion.
The Applicable Legal Standards
While the supplemental briefs were submitted in connection with the respondent’s
motion to dismiss, the respondent’s brief contains an affidavit and a copy of relevant records.
Because respondent relies on material outside the pleadings, this will be treated as a motion for
summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). The Court gave Eaglin an opportunity to submit
evidence in opposition to the motion, and Eaglin did so. See Doc. # 40.
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
This federal petition for habeas relief is governed by the applicable provisions of the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”). See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320,
335-36 (1997). Under the AEDPA federal habeas relief based upon claims that were adjudicated
on the merits by the state courts cannot be granted unless the state court’s decision (1) “was
contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States” or (2) “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(d); Kitchens v. Johnson, 190 F.3d 698, 700 (5th Cir. 1999).
The Standard for Summary Judgment in Habeas Corpus Cases
“As a general principle, Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, relating to
summary judgment, applies with equal force in the context of habeas corpus cases.” Clark v.
Johnson, 202 F.3d 760, 764 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 831 (2000). In ordinary civil cases
a district court considering a motion for summary judgment is required to construe the facts in
the case in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Where, however, a state prisoner’s factual allegations have been resolved
against him by express or implicit findings of the state courts, and the prisoner fails to
demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the presumption of correctness established by
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) should not apply, it is inappropriate for the facts of a case to be resolved
in the petitioner’s favor. See Marshall v. Lonberger, 459 U.S. 422, 432 (1983); Sumner v. Mata,
449 U.S. 539, 547 (1981). In reviewing factual determinations of the Texas state courts, this
court is bound by such findings unless an exception to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is shown.
Statute of Limitations
Respondent argues that Eaglin’s petition is barred by the statute of limitations. Under the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), a State prisoner has one year in
which to file a federal habeas corpus petition. Fierro v. Cockrell, 294 F.3d 674, 679 (5th Cir.
Eaglin was released to parole on October 31, 2005.
His parole was revoked on
November 7, 2011. Respondent argues that he knew, or should have known, about the lost time
credits as of the revocation date.
Eaglin presents evidence that he promptly disputed the nature of his release in 2006. He
received a parole certificate, but argued that he was entitled to mandatory supervision. See Doc.
# 40, at Exh. A6. He argues, and his evidence indicates that he believed at the time, that good
time credits culminating in mandatory supervision are irrevocable. Id. Eaglin contends that he
was informed by a Texas state official that the dispute would be resolved, and that he first
learned that it was not resolved on or about June 5, 2012, when he received a document from the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Id. at Exh. A10. He presents evidence indicating that he
attempted to resolve the dispute internally beginning on June 7, 2012. Id., Exh. A11, at 2. He
filed a formal time credit dispute on August 23, 2012. Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #
33), Exh. A. That dispute was denied on August 24, 2012.
Construing the facts in the light most favorable to Eaglin, he learned of the dispute no
later than June 7, 2012. He attempted to resolve the dispute through an informal inquiry to a
Corrections official who, according to Eaglin’s evidence, previously advised him that she would
correct any errors in the time calculation. Doc. # 40, Exh. A11, at 2. He apparently became
convinced that his informal request would not be sufficient by August 23, 2012, when he filed
his time credit dispute.
Assuming that Eaglin’s delay in filing his time credit dispute was
based on his reasonable reliance on statements made by Corrections officials, he might be
entitled to some equitable tolling. it is beyond dispute, however, that he knew no later than
August 24, 2012 that the dispute would not be resolved in his favor. Eaglin did not file his state
habeas corpus application challenging the loss of time credit until September 19, 2013. See Doc.
# 6-9, at 48.
The statute of limitations is tolled during “[t]he time during which a properly filed
application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent . . .
claim is pending . . ..” 28 U.S.C. ' 2244(d)(2). Because Eaglin filed his state habeas corpus
application more than one year after he learned that the dispute would not be resolved in his
favor, there was no limitations period left to toll. Eaglin filed his federal petition for a writ of
habeas corpus no earlier than June 19, 2014. See Doc. # 1, at 23. Because Eaglin’s limitations
period expired no later than August 24, 2013, he filed his federal petition at least nine months
and 26 days too late. His claims are therefore barred by the statute of limitations.
Lost Time Credit
Time bar notwithstanding, Eaglin is not entitled to relief on the merits of his claims.
Eaglin argues that the State wrongly revoked his good time and street time credit when his
parole/mandatory supervision was revoked. An inmate, however, has no constitutional right to
good time credit. See, e.g., Hamill v. Wright, 870 F.2d 1032, 1036 (5th Cir. 1989); see also
Hallmark v. Johnson, 118 F.3d 1073, 1079-80 (5th Cir. 1997)(“there is no protected liberty
interest in the restoration of good time credits”). Moreover, Texas law specifically provides that
a prisoner who has his parole or mandatory supervision revoked must serve the remainder of his
term “without credit for the time from the date of the person’s release to the date of revocation.”
TEX. GOV’T CODE ' 508.283(b). Because Texas law provides for the revocation of Eaglin’s
street time credit and he has no constitutional right to retain his good time credit, Eaglin fails to
identify any violation of his constitutional rights.
Certificate of Appealability
Eaglin has not requested a certificate of appealability (“COA”), but this Court may
determine whether he is entitled to this relief in light of the foregoing rulings. See Alexander v.
Johnson, 211 F.3d 895, 898 (5th Cir. 2000) (“It is perfectly lawful for district court’s [sic] to
deny COA sua sponte. The statute does not require that a petitioner move for a COA; it merely
states that an appeal may not be taken without a certificate of appealability having been issued.”)
A petitioner may obtain a COA either from the district court or an appellate court, but an
appellate court will not consider a petitioner’s request for a COA until the district court has
denied such a request. See Whitehead v. Johnson, 157 F.3d 384, 388 (5th Cir. 1988); see also
Hill v. Johnson, 114 F.3d 78, 82 (5th Cir. 1997) (“[T]he district court should continue to review
COA requests before the court of appeals does.”). “A plain reading of the AEDPA compels the
conclusion that COAs are granted on an issue-by-issue basis, thereby limiting appellate review to
those issues alone.” Lackey v. Johnson, 116 F.3d 149, 151 (5th Cir. 1997).
A COA may issue only if the petitioner has made a “substantial showing of the denial of
a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); see also United States v. Kimler, 150 F.3d 429,
431 (5th Cir. 1998). A petitioner “makes a substantial showing when he demonstrates that his
application involves issues that are debatable among jurists of reason, that another court could
resolve the issues differently, or that the issues are suitable enough to deserve encouragement to
proceed further.” Hernandez v. Johnson, 213 F.3d 243, 248 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S.
966 (2000). The Supreme Court has stated that:
Where a district court has rejected the constitutional claims
on the merits, the showing required to satisfy § 2253(c) is
straightforward: The petitioner must demonstrate that
reasonable jurists would find the district court’s assessment of
the constitutional claims debatable or wrong. The issue
becomes somewhat more complicated where . . . the district
court dismisses the petition based on procedural grounds. We
hold as follows: When the district court denies a habeas
petition on procedural grounds without reaching the
prisoner’s underlying constitutional claim, a COA should
issue when the prisoner shows, at least, that jurists of reason
would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid
claim of the denial of a constitutional right and that jurists of
reason would find it debatable whether the district court was
correct in its procedural ruling.
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).
This Court has carefully considered Eaglin’s’ petition and concludes that it is barred by
the statute of limitations, and that his claims lack merit. The court concludes that jurists of
reason would not find this Court’s ruling debatable, and that Eaglin has failed to make a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. This Court concludes that Eaglin is
not entitled to a certificate of appealability.
For the foregoing reasons, respondent’s motion for summary judgment is granted.
Eaglin’s petition is dismissed with prejudice.
It is ORDERED as follows:
Respondent Lorie Davis’ motion for summary judgment (Doc. #33) is
Petitioner Lawrence Eaglin’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Doc. # 1) is
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;
No Certificate of Appealability shall issue.
The Clerk shall notify all parties and provide them with a true copy of this Memorandum
It is so ORDERED.
SIGNED on this 14th day of February, 2018.
Kenneth M. Hoyt
United States District Judge
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