Crawley v. Catoe

Decision Date07 December 2000
Docket NumberNo. 00-6594,00-6594
Citation257 F.3d 395
Parties(4th Cir. 2001) MALISSA ANN CRAWLEY, Petitioner-Appellant, v. WILLIAM D. CATOE, DirectorDesignate, Department of Corrections, State of South Carolina; ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, Respondents-Appellees. AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION; SOUTH CAROLINA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION; AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS; AMERICAN NURSES ASSOCIATION; ALLIANCE FOR SOUTH CAROLINA'S CHILDREN; NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ABUSE COUNSELORS; SOUTH CAROLINA ASSOCIATION OF ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ABUSE COUNSELORS; SOUTH CAROLINA NURSES ASSOCIATION; AMERICAN MEDICAL WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION; NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS, INCORPORATED; SOCIETY OF GENERAL INTERNAL MEDICINE; AMERICAN ACADEMY ON PHYSICIAN AND PATIENT; THE CONSORTIUM FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSING WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN; ASSOCIATION FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH IN SUBSTANCE ABUSE; ASSOCIATION OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS; NATIONAL FAMILY PRESERVATION NETWORK; NATIONAL CENTER FOR YOUTH LAW; LEGAL SERVICES FOR PRISONERS WITH CHILDREN; INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH AND RECOVERY; NOW LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND; 52 PERCENT; LEGAL ACTION CENTER, Amici Curiae. Argued:
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Florence. G. Ross Anderson, Jr., District Judge.

COUNSEL ARGUED: Susan Frietsche, WOMEN'S LAW PROJECT, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Appellant. Tracey Colton Green, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: David S. Cohen, Lynn M. Paltrow, WOMEN'S LAW PROJECT, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Seth Kreimer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; C. Rauch Wise, Greenwood, South Carolina; David Rudovsky, KAIRYS, RUDOVSKY, EPSTEIN, MESSING & RAU, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Appellant. Charles M. Condon, Attorney General, John W. McIntosh, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Donald J. Zelenka, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellees. Daniel N. Abrahamson, San Francisco, California, for Amici Curiae.

Before WIDENER and KING, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge Widener wrote the opinion, in which Judge King and Senior Judge Hamilton concurred.

OPINION

WIDENER, Circuit Judge:

Malissa Ann Crawley appeals from a decision of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina denying her petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.S 2254. Crawley's petition challenges her conviction on due process grounds, alleging that she had no notice that the statute under which she was convicted applied to her conduct and that the statute as interpreted is unconstitutionally vague. The district court dismissed Crawley's petition as untimely under the one-year limitations period of 28 U.S.C. S 2244(d) and also rejected the merits of her petition. Crawley argues that the district court misinterpreted the tolling provision of 28 U.S.C. S 2244(d)(2) by failing to toll the statute of limitations for the period during which her petition was pending in the United States Supreme Court for writ of certiorari to review the South Carolina Supreme Court's denial of her state habeas corpus application. Because we agree with the district court that 28 U.S.C. S 2244(d)(2) did not toll the one-year limitations period while Crawley's petition for writ of certiorari was pending, we affirm without considering the merits of Crawley's petition for habeas corpus.

I.

The operative facts in this matter are not disputed. On November 9, 1991, Malissa Ann Crawley gave birth to her son at Anderson Hospital in South Carolina. That same month, Crawley was charged with "unlawful neglect of a child" pursuant to S.C. Code S 20-7-50, 20-7490 (1985), on the grounds that she allegedly took cocaine or crack cocaine while she was pregnant, endangering her fetus. Crawley waived grand jury presentment and pleaded guilty as charged. On January 6, 1992, Crawley was sentenced to five years in prison which was suspended, resulting in five years of probation. Crawley did not appeal her conviction or her sentence.

On July 15, 1994, Crawley was charged with criminal domestic violence. She pleaded guilty to the charge. As a result, on August 5, 1994, a South Carolina judge revoked her probation and ordered her to begin serving her five-year sentence. Crawley did not appeal the revocation of her probation.

Crawley filed her first and only state application for habeas corpus relief on September 25, 1994, asserting that, because child endangerment does not extend to a fetus, the act to which she pleaded guilty, under S.C. Code S 20-7-50, 20-7-490 (1985),"[was] not a crime in South Carolina" and that she was in custody in violation of the South Carolina constitution and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A South Carolina trial court granted Crawley's application on October 17, 1994. The South Carolina Supreme Court held the state's appeal of this decision in abeyance until it resolved the appeal of another case raising the same issues as Crawley's application. The South Carolina Supreme Court decided in that case, Whitner v. State, 492 S.E.2d 777 (S.C. 1997), that a viable fetus is a"child" within the meaning of the child abuse and endangerment statute.

Citing its decision in the Whitner case, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the trial court's decision to grant Crawley's application for state habeas relief and reinstated Crawley's conviction and sentence on December 1, 1997. Crawley v. Evatt , No. 97-MO-117 (S.C. Dec. 1, 1997). The South Carolina Supreme Court denied Crawley's motion for rehearing on January 8, 1998. On March 2, 1998, after both the South Carolina Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court denied her request for bail pending her petition for a writ of certiorari, Crawley was reincarcerated.

Crawley's petition for certiorari to review the adverse habeas decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court, consolidated with Whitner's, was timely filed in the United States Supreme Court on March 19, 1998. In a memorandum order of May 26, 1998, the United States Supreme Court denied Crawley's petition for certiorari. Whitner v. South Carolina and Crawley v. South Carolina , 523 U.S. 1145 (1998).

Crawley filed her first and only petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court on February 26, 1999, again challenging her conviction on the grounds that South Carolina's interpretation of the child endangerment statute, extending the statute to include endangerment of a fetus, violated due process because she had no notice that the statute extended to her conduct and that the statute, as interpreted, was unconstitutionally vague. The district court dismissed Crawley's petition as untimely on March 27, 2000. In addition, the district court entered summary judgment against Crawley on the merits of her notice and vagueness claims. Crawley timely filed her notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on April 24, 2000, together with a motion for a certificate of appealability which this court granted on May 16, 2000.

II.

The construction of the statute of limitations of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA), is a question of law that this Court reviews de novo. See Taylor v. Lee, 186 F.3d 557, 559 (4th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 120 S. Ct. 1262 (2000).

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 imposed a new, one-year statute of limitations on petitions brought by state prisoners for a federal writ of habeas corpus. 1 See 28 U.S.C.

S 2244(d). In Crawley's case, this limitations period ran from the date on which the criminal judgment against her "became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." See 28 U.S.C. S 2244(d)(1)(A). Crawley's January 6, 1992, conviction for "unlawful neglect of a child," from which she did not appeal, became final long before the April 24, 1996, effective date of the AEDPA. We have decided that, in the case of a habeas challenge to a state conviction that became final prior to the enactment of the AEDPA, a habeas petitioner is entitled to a one-year grace period from the effective date of the Act, April 24, 1996, in which to file a federal habeas petition. See Brown v. Angelone , 150 F.3d 370, 375 (4th Cir. 1998). Thus, Crawley's one-year limitations period ran from April 24, 1996.

AEDPA also provides, however, that this one-year limitations period is tolled while "a properly filed application for State postconviction or other collateral review . . . is pending." 28 U.S.C. S 2244(d)(2). Crawley's application for state post-conviction relief was continuously pending before the South Carolina courts from before the April 24, 1996, effective date of the AEDPA until January 8, 1998, when the South Carolina Supreme Court denied her request for rehearing. The parties are in agreement that the one-year limitations period was tolled during this time period.

The district court held that this tolling period ended on January 8, 1998, and dismissed Crawley's February 26, 1999, petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus as untimely. Crawley argues, however, that her petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court seeking review of the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision to reject her application for state habeas corpus relief was "a properly filed application for other collateral review" which was"pending" and which tolled the limitations period. If we accept Crawley's argument, the one-year limitations period was tolled at least during the period from March 19 until May 26, 1998, when the Supreme Court denied certiorari, and her petition was timely.

While this appeal poses a question of first...

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