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Griffin v. Ransom

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

April 28, 2017

SAMUEL GRIFFIN, Petitioner,
v.
MS. RANSOM, Respondent.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN United States District Judge

         Petitioner, a state inmate, petitions this court for a writ of habeas corpus pro se pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The matter comes before the court on respondent's motion to dismiss (DE 8) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] The issues raised have been fully briefed and are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the court grants respondent's motion.

         STATEMENT OF CASE

         On June 10, 1991, petitioner, in the Jones County Superior Court, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. (Resp't's Mem. Ex. 1, p. 1). Petitioner subsequently appealed his conviction and sentence. See State v. Griffin, 109 N.C.App. 131, 425 S.E.2d 722 (1993). On February 16, 1993, the North Carolina Court of Appeals vacated petitioner's judgment and remanded the action to the trial court for re-sentencing. See id. at 133, 723. On January 24, 1994, the superior court subsequently re-sentenced petitioner and once again imposed a term of life imprisonment. (Resp't's Mem. Ex. 2, p. 1). Petitioner appealed his new sentence, and the court of appeals found no error. (Id. p. 9). The North Carolina Supreme Court then denied petitioner's petition for discretionary review on July 27, 1995. State v. Griffin, 340 N.C. 570, 460 S.E.2d 325 (1995).

         On November 9, 2005, petitioner, through counsel, filed a motion for appropriate relief (“MAR”) in the Jones County Superior Court, which was denied on April 20, 2006. (Resp't's Mem. Ex. 2). Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the court of appeals. (Id.) The court of appeals denied the petition on November 13, 2007. (Id.) Petitioner then filed a second MAR in the Jones County Superior Court on October 28, 2015, which was denied on December 1, 2015. (Id.) On April 7, 2016, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the court of appeals. (Id. Ex. 3). The court of appeals denied the writ on April 26, 2016. (Id. Ex. 5).

         On June 16, 2016, [2] petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In his petition, petitioner asserts the following grounds for relief: his guilty plea was not voluntary; he received ineffective assistance of counsel; his sentence was unauthorized under state law; his aggravating factors were improperly found by the trial judge rather than a jury; his aggravating factors were not alleged in his indictment; and there was a “significant change in the law.” (Pet. pp. 3-9).

         DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         1. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) determines only whether a claim is stated; “it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). A claim is stated if the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In evaluating whether a claim is stated, “[the] court accepts all well-pled facts as true and construes these facts in the light most favorable to the [petitioner], ” but does not consider “legal conclusions, elements of a cause of action, . . . bare assertions devoid of further factual enhancement[, ] . . . unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). In other words, this plausibility standard requires a petitioner to articulate facts, that, when accepted as true, demonstrate that the petitioner has stated a claim that makes it plausible he is entitled to relief. Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, and Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         2. Analysis

         Respondent argues that petitioner's § 2254 petition is time-barred. Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court must be filed within one year. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The period begins to run from the latest of several dates:

A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review; B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application . . . is removed . . .; C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or D) the date on which the ...

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