United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court upon Petitioner James Harrell
Brown's pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. No. 1). Also before
the Court is Respondents' Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc. No. 8.)
is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina who was
convicted by a Burke County Superior Court jury on September
2, 2004, of three counts of statutory rape of a person 13,
14, or 15 years old, two counts of felonious breaking or
entering, and one count each of first degree burglary,
statutory sexual offense against a person 13, 14, or 15 years
old, and indecent liberties with a child. (Pet. 1-2, Doc. No.
1.) The trial court sentenced Petitioner to four consecutive
terms of 240 to 297 months imprisonment, based on his
convictions for burglary, statutory rape, and statutory
sexual offense. State v. Brown, 626 S.E.2d 307, 311
( N.C. Ct. App. 2006). He also received a suspended sentence
of 16 to 20 months for his indecent liberties conviction and
suspended sentences of 6 to 8 months for each of his breaking
or entering convictions. Id. Petitioner filed a
21, 2006, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued an
opinion finding that no prejudicial error occurred with
respect to Petitioner's trial or sentencing but remanding
for the trial court to correct several clerical errors in the
sentencing judgments. Id. at 315. Petitioner's
petition for discretionary review (“PDR”) was
denied in the North Carolina Supreme Court on June 29, 2006.
State v. Brown, 634 S.E.2d 221 ( N.C. 2006).
filed a motion for appropriate relief (“MAR”) in
the Burke County Superior Court on January 2, 2008. (Pet. 8.)
After numerous proceedings and filings in the state court,
Petitioner's MAR was denied in its entirety on May 12,
2015. (Pet. 9.) Petitioner filed a petition for writ of
certiorari on January 4, 2016 in the North Carolina Court of
Appeals, seeking review of the denial of his MAR; it was
denied on January 19, 2016. (Pet. at 11.) Petitioner has
since filed additional motions and petitions in the Burke
County Superior Court and North Carolina Court of Appeals,
all of which have been dismissed or denied. (Pet. 11-15.)
filed the instant habeas Petition in this Court on June 8,
2016, when he signed and placed it in the prison mailing
system. (Pet. 91.) Petitioner raises nearly two dozen Grounds
for Relief, contending that he was unconstitutionally
convicted and sentenced because: (1) his three indictments
for burglary were defective; (2) there was no physical
evidence to prove his guilt; (3) the evidence against him was
tainted and, therefore, invalid and inaccurate; (4) his
sentence violated the Eighth Amendment; (5) case officers
committed misconduct, mishandled, falsified, and withheld
evidence, and gave perjured testimony at trial; (6) the
conditions under which Petitioner gave a statement to law
enforcement rendered the statement involuntary; (7) his
convictions and sentences were based on a falsified statement
made after Miranda rights were given and waived; (8)
evidence was seized from his residence without probable
cause; (9) the victim altered her testimony; (10) his
convictions and sentences were based on a hostile
witness's testimony; (11) e-mails introduced at trial had
been altered; (12) the trial court abused its discretion in
admitting evidence that was not linked to Petitioner's
case; (13) the trial judge was biased and prejudiced against
him; (14) the State's evidence was not linked to
Petitioner; (15) the State's evidence was insufficient to
prove every element of each charge; (16) appellate counsel
was ineffective for failing to raise all of the issues raised
in the instant Petition; (17) the State's appellate
counsel misrepresented the record; (18) the trial court gave
improper jury instructions; (19) some of the State's
witnesses were not qualified to testify at trial; (20)
post-conviction counsel was ineffective during MAR
proceedings; (21) post-conviction counsel was ineffective in
proceedings before the North Carolina Court of Appeals; and
(22) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately
investigate and prepare for trial. (Pet. 15-81.)
filed an Answer, Motion for Summary Judgment, and Supporting
Brief on September 30, 2016. (Doc. Nos. 7-9.) Respondents
assert that all of the grounds raised in the Petition, except
two, are barred by the statute of limitations. The two that
are not barred, according to Respondents, raise claims that
are not cognizable on federal habeas review.
accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309,
310 (4th Cir. 1975), the Court notified Petitioner of his
right to respond to the Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc.
No. 10.) On October 21, 2016, Petitioner filed a Response.
(Doc. No. 11.) This action is ripe for adjudication.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate in those cases where there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact, and it appears that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2); United States v. Lee, 943
F.2d 366, 368 (4th Cir. 1991). Any permissible inferences to
be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986). Where, however, the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of
fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by summary
judgment is appropriate. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
provides a statute of limitations for § 2254 petitions
by a person in custody pursuant to a state court judgment. 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The petition must be filed within
one year of the date on which the judgment became final by
the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time
for seeking such review. § 2244(d)(1)(A). The limitations
period is tolled during the pendency of a properly filed
state post-conviction action. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2).
judgment became final on or about September 27, 2006, 90 days
after the North Carolina Supreme Court denied
Petitioner's PDR, and Petitioner's time for filing a
petition for writ of certiorari in the United State Supreme
Court expired. See Clay v. United States, 537 U.S.
522, 525 (2003). The federal statute of limitations then ran
for 365 days until it fully expired on or ...