United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se petitioner Edgar Lee Stanfield filed this 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus on October 30,
2017. (Doc. 1). In his amended habeas petition, Mr. Stanfield
challenges a conviction and ten-year prison sentence entered
in January 2016 by the Circuit Court of St. Clair County,
Alabama, Ashville Division, for failure to register as a sex
offender and for enticement of a minor for immoral purposes.
January 19, 2018, the magistrate judge to whom the case is
referred entered a report in which he recommended that the
Court deny Mr. Stanfield's habeas petition because the
petition is barred by the applicable one-year statute of
limitations. (Doc. 8). Mr. Stanfield has objected to the
report and recommendation. (Doc. 9).
party objects to a report and recommendation, the district
court must “make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B)-(C). The Court reviews de novo
legal conclusions in a report and reviews for clear error
factual findings to which no objection is made. Garvey v.
Vaughn, 993 F.2d 776, 779 n.9 (11th Cir. 1993); see
also LoConte v. Dugger, 847 F.2d 745, 749 (11th Cir.
1988); Macort v. Prem, Inc., 208 Fed.Appx. 781, 784
(11th Cir. 2006). A district court “may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or part, the findings or recommendations
made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. §
carefully reviewed and considered the materials in the court
file, the Court agrees that statutory tolling cannot save Mr.
Stanfield's habeas petition from the applicable one-year
statute of limitations. The Court does not adopt the
magistrate judge's discussion of Mr. Stanfield's
state court motion for good time credit as a possible tolling
mechanism (Doc. 8, p. 13) because the one-year period ran
before Mr. Stanfield filed his state court motion. Mr.
Stanfield's state court conviction became final and the
one-year habeas limitation period began to run on February
23, 2016. (Doc. 8, p. 8). The one-year period expired on
February 23, 2017. Mr. Stanfield did not file his good time
motion until April 30, 2017 (Doc. 8-1), so that motion cannot
save his petition from the one-year time limit.
Court adopts the magistrate judge's analysis of the legal
standard concerning equitable tolling. As the magistrate
judge explained, a petitioner must establish “that a
mental impairment ‘prevented him from understanding his
rights and obligations under AEDPA and acting upon them in a
timely fashion.'” (Doc. 8, p. 15) (quoting
Hunter v. Ferrell, 587 F.3d 1304, 1309 (11th Cir.
2009)). And “a petitioner must make a showing
sufficient to support ‘a causal connection between his
mental incapacity and his ability to file a timely§ 2254
petition.'” (Doc. 8, p. 15) (quoting
Hunter, 587 F.3d at 1309).
of that standard is difficult in this case. Mr.
Stanfield's allegations regarding his mental health are
very concerning, but Mr. Stanfield has provided no records to
support the allegations in his petition and the arguments in
his objections. According to Mr. Stanfield's allegations,
there should be Veteran's Administration medical records
that would corroborate diagnoses of PTSD and bi-polar
disorder, and there should be court records from Marshall
County, Alabama that confirm that Mr. Stanfield was declared
civilly incompetent in 2013. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Mr. Stanfield
provided several court records in support of his habeas
petition (Doc. 1, pp. 17-27) and Department of Corrections
records in support of his state good time motion (Doc. 8-2,
pp. 4-5), but he provided no court records to support his
contention concerning his alleged civil incompetence. The
Court has studied Mr. Stanfield's state court good time
motion and related correspondence. (Docs. 8-1 and 8-2). Those
documents support the magistrate judge's causation
analysis. Mr. Stanfield's initial petition also
demonstrates some sophistication, especially his request for
a Rule 35 mental health evaluation. But there is language in
Mr. Stanfield's initial petition that supports his
allegation of mental incapacity, and the fluctuating
penmanship in the original petition is odd and inconsistent
with the handwriting in Mr. Stanfield's state court
submissions concerning his good time motion.
(Compare Doc. 1 and Docs. 8-1 and 8-2). Still, on
balance, given the demanding standard for equitable tolling
and the overall level of sophistication in Mr.
Stanfield's court papers, the Court adopts the magistrate
judge's finding that Mr. Stanfield has not demonstrated
that his alleged mental impairment prevented him from
understanding his rights and obligations under AEDPA and that
his alleged impairment caused him to file his habeas petition
after the statute of limitations expired.
Mr. Stanfield's petition does not present issues that are
debatable among jurists of reason with respect to the
statutory tolling issue, the Court denies a certificate of
appealability concerning that issue. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c); Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473,
484-85 (2000); Rule 11, Rules Governing § 2254
Proceedings. Mr. Stanfield may request a certificate
concerning that issue from the Court of Appeals. Because Mr.
Stanfield's petition presents issues that are debatable
among jurists of reason with respect to the equitable tolling
issue, the Court grants a certificate of appealability
concerning that issue. See 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2); Rule 11, Rules Governing § 2254 Proceedings.
If Mr. Stanfield is not competent, then he has made a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
Court will enter a separate final order consistent with this
Because of the relaxed pleading
standard for proselitigants, the Court reads Mr.
Stanfield's original habeas petition and his amended
petition together for purposes of considering his good time
argument. Mr. Stanfield expressly incorporated a portion of
his original petition in his amended petition. (Doc. 7, p. 5)
(incorporating Doc. 1, pp. 8-16).
Mr. Stanfield attributes his mental
health conditions to his service in the United States