United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on the petition of Patricia Ann
Brown (Brown) for a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254. The State has responded with a motion to
dismiss. The court has considered the motion and response, as
well as the relevant case law and evidence. The court is now
prepared to rule.
and Procedural Posture
Petitioner Patricia Ann Brown (Brown) is in the custody of
the Mississippi Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”) and is currently housed at the Central
Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Mississippi. On
April 9, 2008, Brown was convicted of possession of cocaine,
in an amount greater than .10 gram, but less than 2 grams, in
the Circuit Court of Pontotoc County, Mississippi. On April
10, 2008, the circuit court sentenced Brown to life
imprisonment as a habitual offender pursuant to Mississippi
Code Annotated Section 99-19-83, without eligibility for
parole or probation, to be served in the custody of the MDOC.
It should be noted that Mississippi Code Annotated Section
99-19-83 was amended in 2014.
filed petitions for post-conviction relief in state court on
the following dates: November 1, 2013; October 8, 2015; and
January 22, 2016. On November 6, 2017, Brown made her present
claim in the Mississippi Supreme Court by filing an
Application to Proceed in Trial Court for Post-Conviction
Relief. See Application to Proceed in Trial Court
for Post-Conviction Relief. The application alleges that the
pre-2014 Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 99-19-83 is unconstitutionally
vague, as determined by Johnson v. United States,
135 S.CT. 2551 (2015). Upon the United States Supreme
Court's handing down the decision in Sessions v.
Dimaya, 138 S.CT. 1204 (2018), Brown augmented her
application in state court by filing a letter, dated April
2018, with the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Corpus Relief Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
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 to 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
Section 14 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
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).
makes four arguments to support her claim that her petition
is timely. Her first argument states that because of
applicable tolling periods, the one-year statute of
limitations, measured from the date of the decision in
Johnson v. United States, has not expired. Second,
she argues, in the alternative, that the one-year statute of
limitations begins to run from the date of the decision in
Sessions v. Dimaya. Brown's third argument is
that under the rationale of Johnson and Dimaya, the
pre-2014 Miss. Code Ann. § 19-19-83, under which Brown
was sentenced, is unconstitutionally vague. Her final
argument is that as applied to the facts of this case, and on
its face, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) of the AEDPA is
Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections
argues Brown is not subject to a habeas claim for two
reasons. First, the United States Supreme Court's holding
in Johnson is tailored only to the Armed Career
Criminal Act's (ACCA) residual clause, 18 U.S.C.
924(e)(2)(B)(ii), and thus not applicable to Brown. Second,
Brown is time-barred by 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) (ADEDPA).
the ultimate claim made by Brown to overcome her timeliness
issue is that armed robbery is not a crime of violence, thus
not a predicate offense for pre-2014 Miss. Code Ann. §
19-19-83. To challenge the armed robbery offense that she was
found guilty of in 1988, Brown must overcome at least one of
the following exceptions established in 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1) and (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