Spry v. Livingston
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Donald Ray Spry, Sr., (It is recommended that Petitioners application for writ of habeas corpus be dismissed with prejudice as time-barred.) Rick Thaler substituted for Brad Livingston. Signed by Judge Robert Pitman. (jk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS AUSTIN DIVISION DONALD RAY SPRY, SR., Petitioner, V. RICK THALER, Director, Texas Dept. of Criminal JusticeCorrectional Institutions Division,1 Respondent. § § § § § § § § § §
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE To: The Honorable Lee Yeakel, United States District Judge The Magistrate Judge submits this Report and Recommendation to the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(e) of Appendix C of the Local Court Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties to United States Magistrates, as amended, effective December 1, 2002. Before the Court are Petitioner's Application for Habeas Corpus Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Document 1) and Petitioner's Memorandum of Law in Support (Document 2). Petitioner, proceeding pro se, has paid the appropriate filing fee. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned finds that Petitioner's application for writ of habeas corpus should be dismissed.
Although Petitioner named Brad Livingston as Respondent, Rick Thaler, the current Correctional Institutions Division Director, is the proper respondent and will be substituted as such.
I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE A. Petitioner's Criminal History According to Petitioner, the Director has custody of him pursuant to a judgment and sentence of the 216th Judicial District Court of Gillespie County, Texas. Petitioner asserts he was convicted of criminally negligent homicide with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 12 years in prison on August 24, 2006. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on October 31, 2007. Spry v. State, No. 0406-00676-CR, 2007 WL 3171315 (Tex. App. San Antonio 2007, pet. ref'd). Petitioner's petition for discretionary review was refused on April 9, 2008. Petitioner also challenged his conviction in a state application for habeas corpus relief. According to personnel for the Gillespie County District Clerk's Office, Petitioner's state application was filed on May 21, 2009. Ex parte Spry, Appl. No. 72,675-01. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the application without written order on September 30, 2009. B. Petitioner's Grounds for Relief Petitioner raises the following grounds for relief: 1. 2. 3. He is actually innocent, because the alleged victim was killed due to a traffic accident; He received ineffective assistance of counsel; and He was denied a jury of his peers, because the jurors were all white. II. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS A. Statute of Limitations The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") establishes a oneyear statute of limitations for state inmates seeking federal habeas corpus relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). That section provides, in relevant part: 2
(d)(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of-(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. (2) 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. Petitioner's conviction became final, at the latest, on July 8, 2008, at the conclusion of time during which he could have filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. See SUP. CT. R. 13.1 ("A petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of a judgment of a lower state court that is subject to discretionary review by the state court of last resort is timely when it is filed with the Clerk within 90 days after entry of the order denying discretionary review."). At the time Petitioner filed his state application for habeas corpus relief on May 21, 2009, only 48 days remained of the one-year limitations period. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Petitioner's state application on September 30, 2009. Therefore, Petitioner had until November 17, 2009, to timely file his federal application. Petitioner did not execute his federal application until August 9, 2010, nearly nine months after the limitations period had expired. Petitioner argues he is actually innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. However, the one-year limitations period established by § 2244(d) contains no explicit exemption for petitioners claiming actual innocence of the crimes of which they have been convicted. As a 3
consequence, a petitioner's claim of actual innocence is relevant to the timeliness of his petition if the claim justifies equitable tolling of the limitations period. Cousin v. Lensing, 310 F.3d 843, 849 (5th Cir. 2002). The Fifth Circuit has previously held that such claims do not. Felder v. Johnson, 204 F.3d 168, 171 (5th Cir. 2000) (petitioner's unsupported actual innocence claim does not constitute grounds for equitable tolling "given that many prisoners maintain they are innocent."); Molo v. Johnson, 207 F.3d 773, 775 (5th Cir. 2000) (petitioner who fails to show factual innocence has not shown how the limitations period made the habeas corpus remedy inadequate or ineffective for him, since nothing prevented him from filing a petition before the limitations period expired). The record does not reflect that any unconstitutional state action impeded Petitioner from filing for federal habeas corpus relief prior to the end of the limitations period. Furthermore, Petitioner has not shown that he did not know the factual predicate of his claims earlier. Finally, the claims do not concern a constitutional right recognized by the Supreme Court within the last year and made retroactive to cases on collateral review. III. RECOMMENDATION It is recommended that Petitioner's application for writ of habeas corpus be dismissed with prejudice as time-barred. IV. CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY An appeal may not be taken to the court of appeals from a final order in a habeas corpus proceeding "unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c) (1)(A). Pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases, effective December 1, 2009, the district court must issue or deny a certificate of appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the applicant. 4
A certificate of appealability may issue only if a petitioner has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). The Supreme Court fully explained the requirement associated with a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right" in Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484, 120 S. Ct. 1595 (2000). In cases where a district court rejected a petitioner's constitutional claims on the merits, "the petitioner must demonstrate that reasonable jurists would find the district court's assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong." Id. "When a district court denies a habeas petition on procedural grounds without reaching the petitioner's underlying constitutional claim, a COA should issue when the petitioner 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." Id. In this case, reasonable jurists could not debate the dismissal of the Petitioner's section 2254 petition on substantive or procedural grounds, nor find that the issues presented are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327, 123 S. Ct. 1029 (2003) (citing Slack, 529 U.S. at 484). Accordingly, it is respectfully recommended that the Court shall not issue a certificate of appealability. V. OBJECTIONS The parties may file objections to this Report and Recommendation. A party filing objections must specifically identify those findings or recommendations to which objections are being made. The District Court need not consider frivolous, conclusive, or general objections. Battles v. United States Parole Comm'n, 834 F.2d 419, 421 (5th Cir. 1987).
A party's failure to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations contained in this Report within fourteen (14) days after the party is served with a copy of the Report shall bar that party from de novo review by the district court of the proposed findings and recommendations in the Report and, except upon grounds of plain error, shall bar the party from appellate review of unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions accepted by the district court. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150-153, 106 S. Ct. 466, 472-74 (1985); Douglass v. United Servs. Auto. Assoc., 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir. 1996)(en banc). To the extent that a party has not been served by the Clerk with this Report and Recommendation electronically, pursuant to the CM/ECF procedures of this District, the Clerk is ORDERED to mail such party a copy of this Report and Recommendation by certified mail, return receipt requested. SIGNED this 16th day of August, 2010.
_____________________________________ ROBERT PITMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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