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Farmer v. Hunt

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

August 1, 2017

NORA HUNT, Respondent.


          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court upon Petitioner Matthew Walter Farmer's pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. No. 1), and “Motion to Consider Petitioner's 2254 Habeas Petition Timely Filed” (Doc. No. 8).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina who pled guilty on February 26, 2014, in Catawba County Superior Court, to two counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver (“PWIMSD”) methamphetamine, PWIMSD heroin, PWIMSD marijuana, two counts of possession of marijuana, possession of methamphetamine, assault on a female, resisting a public officer, and three counts of attaining habitual felon status. (Pet. 1, Doc. No. 1.)[1] The convictions were consolidated for judgment and Petitioner was given consecutive sentences of 44 to 65 months and 105 to 138 months imprisonment. (Pet., supra.) He did not file a direct appeal.

         On May 18, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion for appropriate relief (“MAR”) in the Catawba County Superior Court. (Pet. 3.) In the course of its review, the court found a clerical error in one of Petitioner's original judgments. (Order Den. MAR, Doc. No. 1-1 at 14.) The court determined that the error had no actual effect on the original judgment, ordered the clerk to correct the error, and, on June 7, 2016, denied and dismissed Petitioner's MAR on the merits. (Order Den. MAR, supra, at 14-15.)

         On July 18, 2016, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the North Carolina Court of Appeals seeking review of the denial of his MAR. (Pet. 3.) The petition was denied on August 4, 2016. (Order Den. Cert. Pet., Doc. No. 1-1 at 1.)

         Petitioner filed the instant habeas Petition on August 15, 2016, when he signed and placed it in the prison mailing system. (Pet. 14.) He raises the following claims: 1) his guilty plea was involuntary and unintelligent because his trial attorney told him, incorrectly, that he would receive a single judgment with a sentence at the bottom of the mitigated range; 2) his habitual felon indictment was facially defective; 3) he was treated differently from other defendants who had attained habitual felon status in violation of the Equal Protection Clause; 4) his sentence was grossly disproportionate under the Eighth Amendment; and 5) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate “all the elements of the crime, including the Habitual Felon Indictments which are facially defective” (Pet. 10). The Petition was docketed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on August 19, 2016. That court transferred the action to this Court, where venue is proper, on August 23, 2016.

         After conducting an initial review of the Petition and attached documents, the Court notified Petitioner that the Petition appeared to be untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) and provided him an opportunity to explain why the Petition should not be dismissed as such. (Doc. No. 7.) By way of response, Petitioner filed the instant “Motion to Consider Petitioner's 2254 Habeas Petition Timely Filed.” (Doc. No. 8.)


         The Court is guided by Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts, which directs district courts to dismiss habeas petitions when it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief. Rule 4, 28 U.S.C.A. foll. § 2254. In conducting its review under Rule 4, the court “has the power to raise affirmative defenses sua sponte, ” including a statute of limitations defense under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Hill v. Braxton, 277 F.3d 701, 706 (4th Cir. 2002). The court may dismiss a petition as untimely under Rule 4, however, only if it is clear that the petition is untimely, and the petitioner had notice of the statute of limitations and addressed the issue. Id. at 706-707.


         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) 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 latest of:

(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 created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by such State action;
(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 ...

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