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Lloyd v. Hooks

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

November 20, 2019

WILLIE JUNIOR LLOYD, Petitioner,
v.
ERIK A. HOOKS, Secretary, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION, ORDER, AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          L. Patrick Auld United States Magistrate Judge

         Petitioner, a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket Entry 1.) Respondent has moved for summary judgment both on grounds of untimeliness and on the merits. (Docket Entries 8, 9.) For the reasons that follow, the Court should grant Respondent's instant Motion, and dismiss the Petition as untimely.

         I. Procedural History

         On July 23, 1999, in the Superior Court of Alamance County, a jury found Petitioner guilty of first degree murder in case 98CRS24229 (see Docket Entry 1, ¶¶ 1, 2, 4-6; see also Docket Entry 1-1 at 34-35) and the trial court sentenced Petitioner to death (see Docket Entry 1, ¶ 3; see also Docket Entry 1-1 at 34-35).[1]Petitioner appealed (see Docket Entry 1, ¶¶ 8, 9(a)-(f)), and the North Carolina Supreme Court found no error in Petitioner's convictions but remanded for resentencing, State v. Lloyd, 354 N.C. 76 (2001). At resentencing on August 7, 2002, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (See Docket Entry 1, ¶ 3; see also Docket Entry 1-1 at 36-37.)

         Petitioner did not thereafter appeal the trial court's judgment of August 7, 2002, but did, on March 4, 2019, file a pro se motion for appropriate relief (“MAR”) in the trial court (see Docket Entry 1, ¶¶ 10, 11(a); see also Docket Entry 1-1 at 8-9 (trial court's order denying MAR and reflecting MAR's filing date)).[2] The trial court denied Petitioner's MAR on May 14, 2019. (Docket Entry 1, ¶ 11(a)(7), (8); see also Docket Entry 1-1 at 8-9.)[3]

         Petitioner subsequently filed the instant Petition on June 10, 2019. (Docket Entry 1 at 18.)[4] Respondent moved for summary judgment both on grounds of untimeliness and on the merits (Docket Entries 8, 9), and Petitioner responded in opposition (Docket Entry 12) and filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Docket Entry 11). For the reasons that follow, the Court should grant Respondent's instant Motion, because Petitioner submitted his Petition outside of the one-year limitations period.

         II. Grounds for Relief

         The Petition raises two grounds for relief: 1) “[Petitioner]'s rights were violated under [the] 5th, 6th, 8th, [and] 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, [and] Article 1[, ] §[§] 1, 18, 19, 23, 24, 27 [and] 35 of the North Carolina Constitution” (Docket Entry 1, ¶ 12(Ground One)) because, “[b]y waiting one year to docket [his] resentencing under th[e] new [version of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-2004], the [trial] court was stripped of its ability to impose a[] lesser sentence [than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole] or to . . . consider mitigating circumstances” (Docket Entry 1 at 6 (setting forth “Attached Facts for Ground One”)); and 2) [Petitioner]'s rights were violated under [the] 5th, 6th, 8th, [and] 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, [and] Article 1[, ] §[§] 1, 18, 19, 23, 24, 27 [and] 35 of the North Carolina Constitution[ and] Due Process” (Docket Entry 1, ¶ 12(Ground Two)), in that Petitioner's “case was prejudiced by [his] not having been offerred [sic] a plea bargain” and by the trial court's overruling of Petitioner's trial counsel's objections at a hearing under Rule 24 of North Carolina's General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts and denial of several pretrial motions (Docket Entry 1 at 8 (providing “Attached [F]acts for Ground Two”)).

         III. Discussion

         Respondent seeks summary judgment on the grounds that the Petition was filed outside of the one-year limitations period of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), see 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). (See Docket Entry 9 at 11-18.) In order to assess Respondent's statute of limitations argument, the Court must first determine when Petitioner's one-year period to file his Petition commenced. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has explained:

Under § 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D), the one-year limitation period begins to run from the latest of several potential starting 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 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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