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Lauderdale v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

December 4, 2017

DEVADNEY S. LAUDERDALE, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KARON OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on the “Government's Motion to Dismiss Lauderdale's Motion to Vacate Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.” (Doc. 8). In its motion, the Government asserts that Mr. Lauderdale's motion to vacate is untimely because he did not file it within one year of “‘the date on which judgment of conviction [became] final.'” (Doc. 8 at 2) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h)(1)). The Government asserts that Mr. Lauderdale had until December 27, 2016[1] to file his habeas motion, but that he did not file it until January 12, 2017.[2]

         The court ordered Mr. Lauderdale to show cause in writing why the court should not grant the Government's motion to dismiss his motion to vacate based on his untimeliness. The court instructed Mr. Lauderdale to include any information regarding whether the court should apply the doctrine of equitable tolling and to give each and every fact to support that he pursued his rights with reasonable diligence and that extraordinary circumstances beyond his control caused his untimeliness. (Doc. 10).

         Mr. Lauderdale responded to the Show Cause Order on July 21, 2017, explaining that he had “already filed a [timely] ‘2255' around ‘May and June 2016, '” but the court did not accept that filing because he did not sign the petition as required. (Doc. 12). He also claimed that the prison “lockdowns” and his lack of knowledge of the law prevented him from filing his current § 2255 petition on time.

         For the following reasons, the court finds that the doctrine of equitable tolling does not apply in this case and that the Government's motion to dismiss Mr. Lauderdale's habeas motion as untimely is due to be granted.

         Applicable Law on Equitable Tolling

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 imposes a one-year statute of limitations for filing a habeas motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which begins to run “the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). “[P]ro se litigants, like all others, are deemed to know of the one-year statute of limitations.” Outler v. United States, 485 F.3d 1273, 1282 n. 4 (11th Cir. 2007).

         When a petitioner files a § 2255 motion outside of the statue of limitations period, the court may still review the motion if the petitioner shows that the doctrine of equitable tolling applies. San Martin v. McNeil, 633 F.3d 1257, 1267 (11th Cir. 2011). Under the equitable tolling doctrine, the petitioner has the burden of proving that the circumstances warrant application of the doctrine. Id. at 1268 (citing Drew v. Dept. of Corrects., 297 F.3d 1278, 1286 (11th Cir. 2002)).

         Equitable tolling is a “rare and extraordinary remedy” and applies only if Mr. Lauderdale shows “(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely filing.” See San Martin, 633 F.3d at 1267, 1271 (quoting Holland v. Florida, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 2562 (2010)) (emphasis added). Under the first requirement of equitable tolling, the petitioner must pursue his rights with “reasonable diligence, ” rather than “maximum feasible diligence.” Holland, 130 S.Ct. at 2565. Furthermore, under the second requirement, the petitioner must show that an extraordinary circumstance beyond his control prevented him from filing the petition timely. San Martin, 633 F.3d at 1267.

         Mr. Lauderdale's First Habeas Action

         Mr. Lauderdale filed his first Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on June 17, 2016. (Doc. 1 in 1:16-cv-8109-KOB). However, he failed to sign or verify his § 2255 motion as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2242. On July 1, 2016, the court ordered Mr. Lauderdale to file a habeas petition within twenty-one days that complied with 28 U.S.C. § 2242. (Doc. 3 in 1:16-cv-8109-KOB). The court warned Mr. Lauderdale in that Order that failure to submit a proper habeas motion would result in dismissal of the action without further notice. The Clerk sent a copy of that Order to Mr. Lauderdale at his address on file at the time at USP McCreary.

         On July 13, 2016, the postal service returned that mailing marked “Undeliver-able” because Mr. Lauderdale was no longer at that address. The court discovered that the Bureau of Prisons had moved Mr. Lauderdale to USP Canaan and ordered the Clerk on July 19, 2016 to send a copy of its July 1, 2016 Order to Mr. Lauderdale at his new address. (Doc. 5 in 1:16-cv-8109-KOB). The court also gave Mr. Lauderdale an additional fourteen days from the date of that Order to file a habeas petition in compliance with the law. (Doc. 6 in 1:16-cv-8109-KOB). However, Mr. Lauderdale failed to file a habeas petition that complied with 28 U.S.C. § 2242 as ordered. Therefore, the court dismissed without prejudice his first habeas action for failure to prosecute on September 16, 2016. (Doc. 8 in 1:16-cv-8109-KOB).

         Almost four months after the court dismissed his first habeas action, Mr. Lauderdale filed this habeas action on January 12, 2017. Mr. Lauderdale has failed to show that, between September 16, 2016 when the court dismissed his first habeas action without prejudice and December 27, 2016, the deadline for filing a timely habeas motion, he exercised reasonable diligence or that any extraordinary circumstances beyond his control existed for failing to file a timely habeas motion.

         Equitable ...


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