United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
habeas proceeding, Mr. Martin seeks relief from his state
court conviction for first-degree rape. On November 8, 2019,
the magistrate judge entered a report in which he recommended
that the Court dismiss Mr. Martin's petition for writ of
habeas corpus with prejudice because the petition is
untimely. (Doc. 12). Mr. Martin filed objections to the
report and recommendation. (Doc. 13).
district court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole
or part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). When
a 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.”
Id. A district court reviews for plain error
proposed factual findings to which no objection is made, and
a district court reviews propositions of law de
novo. Garvey v. Vaughn, 993 F.2d 776, 779 n.9
(11th Cir. 1993); see also United States v. Slay,
714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983) (per curiam), cert.
denied, 464 U.S. 1050 (1984); Macort v. Prem,
Inc., 208 Fed.Appx. 781, 784 (11th Cir. 2006).
objections, Mr. Martin argues that the one-year statute of
limitations should not bar his habeas petition because he is
actually innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.
(Doc. 13). Mr. Martin contends that no jury acting reasonably
would have convicted him had the jury known that one of the
prosecution witnesses lied and had the jury had before it
evidence that the prosecution purportedly
suppressed. Mr. Martin also argues that his attorney
was ineffective for failing to conduct a pre-trial
investigation and to develop trial testimony that would
support his defense. (Doc. 1, p. 3).
United States Supreme Court has held that actual innocence,
if proven, allows a habeas petitioner to proceed with his
petition despite the expiration of the statute of
limitations. See McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. 383,
386 (2013). To establish actual innocence, a petitioner must
present “new reliable evidence - whether it be
exculpatory scientific evidence, trustworthy eyewitness
accounts, or critical physical evidence - that was not
presented at trial.” Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S.
298, 324 (1995). And a petitioner must establish that
“in light of the new evidence, no juror, acting
reasonably, would have voted to find him guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt.'” McQuiggin, 569 U.S. at
386 (quoting Schlup, 513 U.S. at 329).
Martin has not established his actual innocence under the
McQuiggin standard because he has not identified
“new reliable evidence” that was not available to
him during trial and that would have prevented jurors, acting
reasonably, from finding him guilty. Schlup, 513
U.S. at 324; Johnson v. Alabama, 256 F.3d 1156, 1171
(11th Cir. 2001) (explaining that claim of actual innocence
must be supported by “reliable evidence not presented
at trial”). In his submission to the magistrate judge,
Mr. Martin stated that he did not know that the prosecution
witness lied until September 2017, nine years after his 2008
conviction. (Doc. 11, p. 2; Doc. 12, p. 1). This witness
testified that there was a bloody crime scene. (Doc. 4-4, p.
3; Doc. 11, pp. 2, 5). Mr. Martin contends that the
prosecution withheld evidence that the victim's body and
clothing “had no dried blood or debris.” (Doc.
11, p. 2). That evidence, Mr. Martin argues, would
have undermined the inference of forcible compulsion that
jurors reached based on the purportedly false testimony.
(Doc. 11, p. 2). Mr. Martin also has offered affidavits from
two relatives who assert that they are witnesses and are
willing to testify on Mr. Martin's behalf. (Doc. 11, pp.
Martin has not demonstrated that even if the Court deems the
evidence on which he relies “new” and accepts the
significance of the physical evidence (the victim's
clothing) and the testimony that Mr. Martin believes new
witnesses would provide, no reasonable juror would convict
him of first-degree rape. The Court does not have before it
the transcript from Mr. Martin's trial, so the Court does
not know the full scope of the evidence presented at trial.
But the physical evidence and the testimony from Mr.
Martin's new witnesses, at best, would give rise to
credibility arguments concerning the testimony of one
prosecution witness whose testimony indicates that the rape
at issue was forcible. The record before the Court indicates that
in addition to that witness, the Government called three
other witnesses whose testimony provides evidence of forcible
rape: the victim who testified that she was “hurting
after the incident, ” a deputy sheriff who spoke to the
victim at the hospital and testified that the victim
“appeared to be scared and hurting, ” and the
nurse who examined the victim at the hospital and testified
that there was evidence of force including “abrasions
or redness in the genital area.” (Doc. 44, pp. 3-4).
The trial evidence also included DNA evidence from a rape
kit. (Doc. 4, p. 6; Doc. 4-4, p. 4). Though Mr. Martin
objects to the admissibility of the rape kit evidence based
on chain of custody arguments, he has not demonstrated that
the DNA evidence is inaccurate.
on the record before the Court, Mr. Martin has not
demonstrated that no reasonable jury would find him guilty of
forcible rape. And he has not demonstrated that he actually
is innocent of forcible rape. As the magistrate judge
explained, legal innocence will not open the door to
consideration of an untimely habeas petition; only actual,
factual innocence opens the door. Bousley v. United
States, 523 U.S. 614, 623 (1988) (“‘actual
innocence'” means factual innocence, not mere legal
insufficiency”). Therefore, Mr. Martin is not entitled
to equitable tolling of the statute of limitations, and his
petition is time-barred.
the Court overrules Mr. Martin's objections, adopts the
report of the magistrate judge, and accepts the
recommendation from the magistrate judge. The Court will
dismiss Mr. Martin's petition as time-barred. The Court
will not issue a certificate of appealability, but Mr. Martin
may request a certificate of appealability from the Eleventh
Circuit Court of Appeals. Fed. R. App. P. 22(b)(1); Rule 11
of the Rules Governing Proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §
Court will enter a separate final judgment.
 In his objections, Mr. Martin
initially states that two witnesses lied, (Doc. 13, p. 1),
but he focuses his discussion on the testimony of one
witness, (Doc. 13, p. 2). The second witness who purportedly
lied is a chain of custody witness ...