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Thomas v. Outlaw

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

July 24, 2014

FORREST THOMAS, III, Petitioner,
v.
TIMOTHY OUTLAW, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DEBRA M. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the pro se petition of Forrest Thomas, III, for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent has moved to dismiss the petition as time-barred pursuant to § 2244(d), and Thomas has responded. This matter is now ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, Respondent's motion is granted, and the instant petition will be dismissed with prejudice.

I

Discussion

Whether Respondent's motion should be granted turns on the timeliness of Thomas' § 2254 petition. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") has a one-year statute of limitations, which provides:

(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 the 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.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The federal limitations period is tolled while a "properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review" is pending. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2).

On May 18, 2007, Thomas pleaded guilty to manslaughter (Cause No. 2005-322) and kidnapping (Cause No. 2007-199) in the Circuit Court of Washington County, Mississippi. See Doc. #11 at Exhibit A. That same day, he was sentenced to a term of twenty years for manslaughter and fifteen years for kidnapping, to be served consecutively in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. See Id. at Exhibits B and C. In his federal habeas petition, Thomas clarifies that he is only challenging his plea and sentence for kidnapping. See Doc. #1 at 1.[1]

By statute, there is no direct appeal from a guilty plea. See Miss. Code Ann. § 99-35-101. Thomas' conviction became final on June 17, 2007, thirty days after he was sentenced on his guilty plea.[2] See Roberts v. Cockrell, 319 F.3d 690, 694 (5th Cir. 2003) (holding that a judgment becomes final by the conclusion of direct review or "when the time for seeking further direct review" in state court expires). Therefore, Thomas had until June 17, 2008, to submit a "properly filed" application in State court to toll the federal limitations period. However, Thomas did not file a post-conviction motion until May 14, 2010.[3] See Doc. #11 at Exhibit D. Because he did not file a motion for post-conviction relief until after the expiration of the federal limitations period, Thomas is not entitled to statutory tolling pursuant to § 2244(d)(2).

Thomas' federal habeas petition was "filed" sometime between the date it was signed on April 22, 2014, and the date it was received in this Court on April 25, 2014. See Coleman v. Johnson, 184 F.3d 398, 401 (5th Cir. 1999) (holding that "mailbox rule" deems pro se prisoner's petition filed on date it is delivered to ...


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