Griffin v. Padula

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Citation518 F.Supp.2d 671
Docket NumberC.A. No. 2:07-0874-PMD-RSC.
PartiesDonald Eugene GRIFFIN, Petitioner, v. A.J. PADULA, Warden of Lee Correctional Institution, Respondent.
Decision Date06 July 2007

Donald Eugene Griffin, Bishopville, SC, Pro se.



This matter is before the court upon the recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Robert S. Carr that Griffin's ("Petitioner" or "Griffin") petition for writ of habeas corpus be denied as time-barred. The record contains a report and recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(B).1 If a party disagrees with the recommendation as it stands in the R. & R, that party may submit written objections to the court within ten days after being served with a copy of that report. 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1). Petitioner filed timely objections to the R & R.


At the September 1990 term, the Richland County Grand Jury indicted Griffin for Burglary (dwelling), Kidnapping, Robbery (strong arm), and First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. (See Petition App. at 3-10.) On February 13, 1991, a jury found Griffin guilty of First Degree Burglary, Kidnapping, Strong Arm Robbery, and Aggravated Assault and Battery. The Honorable M. Duane Shuler sentenced Petitioner to confinement for a period of fifteen years for First Degree Burglary; a period of life for Kidnapping; a period of ten years (consecutive) for Strong Arm Robbery; and a period of ten years (consecutive) for Aggravated Assault and Battery. (See Petition App. at 11-14.) Griffin filed a timely Notice of Appeal, but the South Carolina Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on April 8, 1992. (See Petition App. at 22.)

On February 17, 1993, Griffin filed an application for Post-Conviction Relief ("PCR"), and on July 20, 1994, an evidentiary hearing was held before the Honorable L. Casey Manning. However, Judge Manning denied and dismissed Griffin's application in an Order dated October 18, 1994. (R & R at 2.) From this Order, Griffin filed a Notice of Appeal, but the South Carolina Supreme Court denied the Petition for Writ of Certiorari on November 2, 1995. (R & R at 2.)

After the dismissal of his first PCR application, he filed two more, one on December 18, 1995, and the other on October 15 2004. Both met much the same result as the first. The December 18, 1995 PCR application was denied and dismissed by the Honorable L. Henry McKellar by an Order dated January 3, 1998. (R & R at 2.) Petitioner again filed a timely Notice of Appeal, and on September 28, 1999, the Supreme Court of South Carolina remitted the case to the trial court. (R & R at 2.) The Supreme Court of South Carolina subsequently denied certiorari in this case on October 20, 2006. Griffin filed his third application for post-conviction relief on October 15, 2004, but that application was also dismissed by the trial court on March 20, 2006. (R & R at 2.)

The petition before this court is Petitioner's first petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. (R & R at 2.) Griffin filed this petition under 28 U.S.C. § 22542 on March 29, 2007. Griffin raised three challenges in his petition:

1. Violation of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights because of the criminal process

2. Violation of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights because of the manner in which his application was dismissed and

3. Violation of his Sixth Amendment rights of a guarantee to effective assistance of counsel.

(Petition Attachment at 1, 5, 8.)

The Magistrate Judge issued an R & R on April 30, 2007, recommending that Griffin's petition be denied since it is timebarred by the one-year limitations provision of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), as codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).3


The Magistrate Judge only makes a recommendation to the Court. This recommendation has no presumptive weight and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71, 96 S.Ct. 549, 46 L.Ed.2d 483 (1976). The court is charged to review de novo those portions of the R & R that have been specifically objected to, and the court may accept, reject, or modify the R & R, in whole or in part. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) (1). Additionally, the court may recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). After reviewing the entire record, the R & R, and Plaintiff's objections, the court finds that the Magistrate Judge properly summarized the facts and applied the correct principles of law. Therefore, the court is adopting the R & R in full, specifically incorporating it into this Order.


As the Magistrate Judge correctly noted, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), as amended in 1996 by the AEDPA, provides that a one-year period of limitation applies to an application for "a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court." See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). "Congress enacted AEDPA to reduce delays in the execution of state and federal criminal sentences, particularly in capital cases ... and to further the principles of comity, finality, and federalism." Woodford v. Garceau, 538 U.S. 202, 206, 123 S.Ct. 1398, 155 L.Ed.2d 363 (2003) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Nevertheless, the Fourth Circuit has held that the AEDPA statute of limitations is subject to equitable tolling. Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d 238, 246 (4th Cir. 2003); Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325, 330 (4th Cir.2000). Equitable tolling "is appropriate when, but only when, `extraordinary circumstances beyond [the petitioner's] control prevented him from complying with the statutory time limit.'" Spencer v. Sutton, 239 F.3d 626, 630 (4th Cir.2001) (quoting Harris, 209 F.3d at 330).

Although difficult to understand, the court liberally reads Griffin's objections to find three objections to the R & R. Griffin first objects to the Magistrate Judge's statement in the R & R that Griffin filed his first PCR application on February 17, 1993. Griffin asserts that the February 17, 1993 application involved "matters NOT RELATED TO petitioner's criminal proceeding, or to any claims, related thereof, and is considered a moot issue, in and of these proceedings." (Objections at 7.) This objection, however, is without merit. Assuming Griffin is correct in asserting that he did not file his first PCR application until December 29, 1995, the one-year statute of limitations as stated in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) would have already run, time-barring this habeas corpus application. (See Objections at 8.) As provided for in the statute, the statute of limitations shall run from the latest "date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Since the direct review of Griffin's conviction became final on April 8, 1992 when the Supreme Court of South Carolina affirmed it on direct appeal, the statute of limitations began running from that day until the day of the first PCR application. (R & R at 1.) If, as Griffin states, his first PCR application was not filed until December 29, 1995, the statute of limitations had already run since a total of 1360 days of untolled time had passed between the date his conviction was final and December 29, 1995. Griffin's first objection is thus without merit.

Secondly, Griffin objects to the recommendation of dismissal by the Magistrate Judge because he claims that no one informed him, after his December 29, 1995 application was dismissed, of any "`right' to further appellate review, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, much less[] of any time limits, for filing such action." (Objections at 8.) He states that when his first PCR4 was dismissed on September 28, 1999, his due process rights were violated as he "rel[ied] upon his appointed counsel to ensure his rights to review were protected." (Objections at 8.)

In Harris v. Hutchinson, 209 F.3d 325 (4th Cir.2000), a * 2254 petitioner appealed the district court's dismissal of his § 2254 petition as untimely. Harris, 209 F.3d at 326. In Harris, the petitioner was convicted in state court on November 9, 1990, and on April 24, 1992, the Maryland Court of Appeals denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. Id. The AEDPA was enacted in 1996, and on "March 12, 1997, ten-and-one-half months after the enactment of the AEDPA, Harris filed a petition for state post-conviction relief." Id. His application was denied, and on January 7, 1998, "the Maryland Court of Special Appeals denied Harris' application for leave to appeal the denial, thus concluding his state post-conviction proceedings." Id. After Harris' counsel learned of the state court's final decision on post-conviction relief, he wrote Harris a letter dated January 12, 1998, which stated,

The next (and last) step is to go into federal court by way of a federal habeas Petition. You have one year from January 7, 1998 [the date the state post-conviction proceedings concluded], or up to and including January 6, 1999, to go into federal court.

Id. at 326-27. Harris filed his federal habeas petition on July 22, 1998, and when the district court dismissed it as timebarred, Harris appealed. Id. at 327.

Although Harris argued the one-year limitations period did not begin to run until the conclusion of state post-conviction proceedings, the Fourth Circuit rejected that argument and determined that in Harris' case, the-one-year limitations period began to run on April 24, 1996, the effective date of the AEDPA. Id. at 328. The running of the statute was suspended while his state petition was pending, but it commenced running again on January 7, 1998. Id. Because Harris filed his petition six months after the one-year period had expired, the Fourth Circuit found his petition...

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