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Williams v. State

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

February 13, 2019

KENNETH WILLIAMS PETITIONER
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI RESPONDENT

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DAVID A. SANDERS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on the petition by Kenneth Williams for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The State has moved to dismiss the petition as untimely filed. The petitioner has not replied, and the deadline to do so has expired. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends that the State's motion to dismiss be granted, and the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus should be dismissed as untimely filed.

         Habeas Corpus Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254

         The writ of habeas corpus, a challenge to the legal authority under which a person may be detained, is ancient. Duker, The English Origins of the Writ of Habeas Corpus: A Peculiar Path to Fame, 53 N.Y.U.L.Rev. 983 (1978); Glass, Historical Aspects of Habeas Corpus, 9 St. John's L.Rev. 55 (1934). It is “perhaps the most important writ known to the constitutional law of England, ” Secretary of State for Home Affairs v. O'Brien, A.C. 603, 609 (1923), and it is equally significant in the United States. Article I, § 9, of the Constitution ensures that the right of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, except when, in the case of rebellion or invasion, public safety may require it. Habeas Corpus, 20 Fed. Prac. & Proc. Deskbook § 56. Its use by the federal courts was authorized in Section14 of the Judiciary Act of 1789. Habeas corpus principles developed over time in both English and American common law have since been codified:

The statutory provisions on habeas corpus appear as sections 2241 to 2255 of the 1948 Judicial Code. The recodification of that year set out important procedural limitations and additional procedural changes were added in 1966. The scope of the writ, insofar as the statutory language is concerned, remained essentially the same, however, until 1996, when Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, placing severe restrictions on the issuance of the writ for state prisoners and setting out special, new habeas corpus procedures for capital cases. The changes made by the 1996 legislation are the end product of decades of debate about habeas corpus.

Id. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a federal court may issue the writ when a person is held in violation of the federal Constitution or laws, permitting a federal court to order the discharge of any person held by a state in violation of the supreme law of the land. Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309, 311, 35 S.Ct. 582, 588, 59 L.Ed. 969 (1915).

         Facts and Procedural Posture

         Petitioner Kenneth Williams is in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and is currently housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi. Mr. Williams was convicted of murder in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, Mississippi and sentenced on November 20, 1991, to serve a term of life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). See Exhibit A.[1] The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed Williams' conviction and sentence on March 7, 1995. See Williams v. State, 662 So.2d 194 (Miss. Ct. App. 1995) (Mem) (Cause No. 91-KA-01179). It appears that that Mr. Williams did not seek rehearing from the court of appeals' decision. As such, the court has calculated Williams' judgment as “final” fourteen (14) days after the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence, i.e., March 21, 1995 (March 7, 1995, plus fourteen (14) days). See Roberts v. Cockrell, supra; Ott v. Johnson, 192 F.3d 510, 513 (5thCir. 1999).

         The records of the Mississippi Supreme Court reflect that Williams has filed numerous applications for leave to seek post-conviction relief in that court, as well as a motion for post-conviction relief that was improperly filed in the trial court and dismissed on appeal for lack of jurisdiction. However, as will be discussed below, none of these pleadings were filed prior to the April 24, 1997, deadline for seeking federal habeas corpus relief.

         The first of Williams' post-conviction filings was signed on January 13, 1998, and stamped as “filed” in the Mississippi Supreme Court on January 15, 1998. See SCR, Cause No. 98-M-00041. Williams' application was denied by Order of the Mississippi Supreme Court filed April 20, 1998. See Exhibit C.

         On October 21, 2001, Mr. Williams signed an application for leave to proceed with state post-conviction collateral relief that was stamped as “filed” in the Mississippi Supreme Court on October 26, 2001. See SCR, Cause No. 2001-M-01665. Mr. Williams' application was dismissed in part and denied in part by Order of the Mississippi Supreme Court filed November 7, 2001. See Exhibit D. In its Order, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that all claims in the application, with the exception of Williams' claim of an illegal sentence, were procedurally barred as a successive writ and should be dismissed. Id. With regard to Williams' claim of an illegal sentence, the court denied the claim for want of merit. Id.

         On February 18, 2003, Mr. Williams signed an application for leave to seek post-conviction collateral relief, which was as “filed” in the Mississippi Supreme Court on February 21, 2003. See SCR, Cause No. 2003-M-00324. The application was dismissed as a successive writ by Order of the Mississippi Supreme Court filed April 2, 2003. See Exhibit E.

         A little over four years later, on July 24, 2007, Mr. Williams signed an application for leave to seek post-conviction relief, which was stamped as “filed” in the Mississippi Supreme Court on July 26, 2007. SCR, Cause No. 2006-M-00238. The Mississippi Supreme Court dismissed Williams' application as a successive writ by Order filed May 19, 2008. See Exhibit F.

         Then, on June 1, 2012, Mr. Williams signed another application for leave to seek post-conviction relief, which was stamped “filed” in the Mississippi Supreme Court on June 5, 2012. See SCR, Cause No. 2012-M-00888. The application was dismissed as both untimely filed and as a successive petition, as well as for lack of merit, by Order filed July 11, 2012. See Exhibit G. Mr. Williams signed an additional application for leave to seek post-conviction relief on April 2, 2014, which was docketed in the same cause number and stamped as “filed” on ...


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