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Jones v. Patton

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

July 15, 2015

LARUE ANTONIO JONES, Petitioner - Appellant,
v.
ROBERT PATTON, Director, Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Respondent - Appellee.

(D.C. No. 5:14-CV-00384-C) (W.D. Oklahoma)

Before KELLY, LUCERO, and McHUGH, Circuit Judges.

ORDER DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY[*]

CAROLYN B. MCHUGH CIRCUIT JUDGE

Larue Antonio Jones, an Oklahoma state prisoner proceeding pro se, [1] seeks a certificate of appealability ("COA") to appeal the district court's dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(A) (requiring a COA to appeal the denial of a habeas application). The district court dismissed the petition as untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Mr. Jones also requests leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we deny both requests and dismiss this matter.

I. BACKGROUND

Mr. Jones pled guilty in Oklahoma state court to one count of first-degree murder (count 1), one count of kidnapping (count 2), and one count of possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute (count 3). On October 16, 2001, Mr. Jones received consecutive sentences of imprisonment for life without parole for count 1, imprisonment for ten years for count 2, and imprisonment for life for count 3. Mr. Jones did not apply to withdraw his guilty plea within ten days of sentencing, and thus did not directly appeal his conviction or sentence.

On August 30, 2002, Mr. Jones filed an "Application for Post-Conviction Relief and Appeal out of Time" (hereinafter "State PCR Application") in Grady County District Court. The state district court took no action for over ten years, until Mr. Jones successfully moved to supplement the State PCR Application. Ultimately the Grady County District Court denied Mr. Jones' State PCR Application on August 20, 2013. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ("OCCA") affirmed that decision on December 12, 2013.

On April 11, 2014, Mr. Jones filed the 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas petition underlying this proceeding in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. A magistrate judge reviewed Mr. Jones' petition and recommended that it be dismissed as untimely. Over Mr. Jones' objection, the district court adopted the magistrate judge's report and recommendation in its entirety and dismissed Mr. Jones' petition as barred by the one-year limitation period applicable to § 2254 petitions. Mr. Jones now seeks a COA.

II. DISCUSSION

A COA is a jurisdictional prerequisite to appellate review of the district court's decision to dismiss a § 2254 petition. See Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 335–36 (2003); Clark v. Oklahoma, 468 F.3d 711, 713 (10th Cir. 2006). To obtain a COA, Mr. Jones must make "a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). Because the district court's decision to dismiss Mr. Jones' petition as untimely rested on procedural grounds, Mr. Jones must "demonstrate both 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.'" Clark, 468 F.3d at 713 (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). "Where a plain procedural bar is present and the district court is correct to invoke it to dispose of the case, a reasonable jurist could not conclude either that the district court erred in dismissing the petition or that the petitioner should be allowed to proceed further." Slack, 529 U.S. at 484. "We review the district court's factual findings for clear error and its legal conclusions de novo." Clark, 468 F.3d at 714.

A one-year period of limitation applies to "an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The one-year limitation period runs from the latest of four possible accrual dates. See id. One is relevant to Mr. Jones' petition: "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." Id. § 2244(d)(1)(A). If a defendant does not timely move to withdraw a guilty plea or file a direct appeal, Oklahoma criminal convictions become final ten days after sentencing. See Okla. Stat. tit. 22 § 1051; Okla. R. Crim. App. 4.2; Clayton v. Jones, 700 F.3d 435, 441 (10th Cir. 2012); Clark, 468 F.3d at 713. In contrast, if a defendant appeals to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals- the court of last resort for criminal cases in Oklahoma-then his conviction is not final and the one-year limitation period for filing a federal habeas petition does not begin until "the United States Supreme Court has denied review, or, if no petition for certiorari is filed, after the time for filing a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court has passed." Locke v. Saffle, 237 F.3d 1269, 1273 (10th Cir. 2001) (emphasis omitted).

When a petitioner properly files an "application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim, " the one-year limitation period is tolled while the application "is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). After denial of state post-conviction relief, however, § 2244(d)(2) does not toll § 2244(d)(1)'s limitation period during the pendency of a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, or during the period of time in which a petitioner can file a petition for a writ of certiorari. Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 332–37 (2007).

Mr. Jones was sentenced on October 16, 2001. Because he did not timely apply to withdraw his guilty plea, his conviction became final on Friday, October 26, 2001, [2] at which point the one-year limitation period began to run. Mr. Jones' failure to appeal to the OCCA meant that he could not seek certiorari review from the United States Supreme Court, and he therefore is not entitled to a 90-day extension to file a petition for certiorari. See 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a) ("Final judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had, may be reviewed by the Supreme Court by writ of certiorari") (emphasis added); Locke, 237 F.3d at 1273; Satterfield v. Milyard, 343 F.App'x 372, 373–74 (10th Cir. 2009) (unpublished).[3] As a result, the limitation period for Mr. Jones to file an application for a writ of habeas corpus was due to expire one year later, on October 27, 2002.[4]

On August 30, 2002, Mr. Jones filed his State PCR Application in Grady County District Court, with 59 days remaining in the § 2244(d)(1) limitation period. This tolled his limitation period so long as the State PCR Application was "pending." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). On December 12, 2013, the OCCA affirmed the denial of the State PCR Application. Thus the limitation period began to run the next day. See Lawrence, 549 U.S. at 337 (holding that ยง 2244(d)(2)'s tolling ceases once a state court of last resort issues a decision, and that tolling does not continue during any potential federal certiorari process). Mr. Jones ...


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