Williams, Ronald v. Fuchs, Larry
ORDER that petitioner Ronald Keith Williams may have until June 25, 2021 to respond to this order and explain why his habeas petition should not be dismissed as untimely. Signed by District Judge James D. Peterson on 6/4/2021. (jef),(ps)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
RONALD KEITH WILLIAMS,
OPINION and ORDER
Ronald Keith Williams, appearing pro se, has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges a June 2007 judgment of conviction, entered in
Milwaukee County Case No. 2006CF1009, for one count of first-degree sexual assault of a
child. Williams contends that he should be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed
to trial because his counsel was ineffective in various ways. Williams’s petition is before the
court for preliminary review under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Under
Rule 4, I must dismiss the petition “if it plainly appears from the petition and any attached
exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.”
Williams’s petition is untimely. A state prisoner must file a federal habeas petition
within one year of when the state court judgment became final. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A).
Generally, a state court judgment becomes final on the date that direct review has concluded,
or on the date that the deadline for seeking direct review has expired. Id. Based on Williams’s
petition and Wisconsin state court records available online, it appears that Williams pleaded
guilty to one count of first-degree sexual assault of a child on June 6, 2007. In July 2007,
Williams was sentenced to 21 years of imprisonment and seven years of extended supervision.
Williams’s deadline for filing a notice of appeal was extended to April 4, 2008, but he did not
file any postconviction motions or a direct appeal. Williams’s federal habeas clock began
running the next day, giving him until April 5, 2009 to file a federal habeas petition. Williams
did not file anything to challenge his criminal conviction until approximately 11 years later,
when he filed a pro se postconviction motion under Wis. Stat. § 974.06 in state court. But
Williams’s habeas clock had long since expired, so Williams’s December 14, 2020 petition for
federal relief is untimely.
Williams may be able to overcome the untimeliness by showing that he qualifies for
equitable tolling because he has been pursuing his rights diligently and some extraordinary
circumstance prevented timely filing. See Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010).
Alternatively, Williams could argue for an equitable exception to one-year deadline based on a
credible claim of actual innocence, regardless whether he has been diligent in pursuing his
rights. See McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. 383, 399 (2013). But to qualify for this narrow
exception, Williams would have to present “evidence of innocence so strong that a court cannot
have confidence in the outcome of the trial unless the court is also satisfied that the trial was
free of nonharmless constitutional error.” Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 316 (1995). Williams
must show that “in light of new evidence, it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror
would have found petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518,
537 (2006); see also McQuiggin, 569 U.S. at 399; Arnold v. Dittmann, 901 F.3d 830, 837 (7th
Based on the materials that Williams has submitted so far, I am skeptical that he will
qualify for an equitable exception to the federal habeas deadline. However, I will give Williams
a short time to respond to this order and show that: (1) he qualifies for equitable tolling; or (2)
I should excuse him from the one-year limitations period because he is actually innocent.
IT IS ORDERED that petitioner Ronald Keith Williams may have until June 25, 2021
to respond to this order and explain why his habeas petition should not be dismissed as
untimely. If Williams fails to respond by the deadline, the petition will be dismissed.
Entered June 4, 2021.
BY THE COURT:
JAMES D. PETERSON
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