United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
THOMAS D. SCHROEDER, District Judge.
Before the court is Respondent George Solomon's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 4) on the pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Randall Gray Stoneman, Jr. (Doc. 1). Stoneman challenges his State custody under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be denied.
On August 19, 2005, Stoneman was tried by a jury in Guilford County Superior Court and convicted of reckless driving, felonious operation of a motor vehicle to elude arrest, and being a habitual felon. (Doc. 1 at 1; Doc. 6-4 at 18-20.) He was sentenced the same day to 150 to 189 months in prison. (Doc. 1 at 1; Doc. 6 at 1.) Stoneman appealed his conviction to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and, while that appeal was pending, filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief ("MAR") with that same court. (Doc. 6-6.) Again, while the appeal was pending, Stoneman petitioned the North Carolina Court of Appeals to certify his case to the North Carolina Supreme Court. (Doc. 6-7.) On January 2, 2007, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued its decision, denying the appeal and MAR. (Doc. 6-2.) Stoneman then applied directly to the North Carolina Supreme Court for discretionary review (Doc. 6-9); that petition was summarily denied on March 8, 2007 (Doc. 6-3).
Thereafter, Stoneman filed a number of post-conviction motions for relief in State court. On June 20, 2008, he filed a MAR in State court (Doc. 7-1); on July 25, 2008, the MAR was denied (Doc. 7-2). On April 28, 2011, he filed another MAR in State court (Doc. 7-3) and amended it with the aid of counsel on September 25, 2012 (Doc. 7-4); on February 13, 2013, the MAR was denied (Doc. 7-5). On March 21, 2013, he filed another MAR in State court (Doc. 8-1); on April 9, 2013, the MAR was denied (Doc. 8-2). On May 7, 2013, Stoneman petitioned the North Carolina Court of Appeals to review the State court's February 2013 denial of his MAR (Doc. 7-6); on May 23, 2013, the court denied the petition (Doc. 7-8). Finally, Stoneman petitioned the North Carolina Supreme Court for discretionary review; that petition was denied on August 27, 2013. (Doc. 8-3.) The pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed in the present case on September 23, 2013. (Doc. 1.)
A. Standard of Review
The Supreme Court has recognized the appropriateness of Rule 56 summary judgment motions in habeas cases, see Blackledge v. Allison , 431 U.S. 63, 80 (1977), as has the Fourth Circuit, see Maynard v. Dixon , 943 F.2d 407 (4th Cir. 1991). Summary judgment is appropriate when there exists no genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Zahodnick v. Int'l Bus. Machs. Corp. , 135 F.3d 911, 913 (4th Cir. 1997). The moving party bears the burden of initially coming forward and demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once that burden is met, the non-moving party must then affirmatively demonstrate that there is a genuine dispute of material fact that requires trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). There is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party for a fact finder to return a verdict for that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Sylvia Dev. Corp. v. Calvert County, Md. , 48 F.3d 810, 817 (4th Cir. 1995). When making the summary judgment determination, the court must view the evidence, and all justifiable inferences from it, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Zahodnick , 135 F.3d at 913; Halperin v. Abacus Tech. Corp. , 128 F.3d 191, 196 (4th Cir. 1997).
The court construes pro se petitions, including habeas petitions, liberally. Fields v. Attorney Gen. of State of Md. , 956 F.2d 1290, 1298 n.20 (4th Cir. 1992); Haines v. Kerner , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction has its limits and does not require the court to become an advocate for a petitioner. Gordon v. Leeke , 574 F.2d 1147, 1152 (4th Cir. 1978).
Stoneman raises three claims in his present petition. Solomon asserts that the first and third claims are time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244 and that the remaining claim fails on the merits. (Doc. 1; Doc. 6 at 20-27.) For the reasons set forth below, the court agrees.
B. Statute of Limitations
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, governs habeas petitions and prescribes a one-year limitations period for them. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The one-year clock begins to run at the latest of four possible dates, three of which apply in the present case:
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the ...