United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
September 30, 2004.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. HECTOR SOTO, Plaintiff,
BLAIR LIEBACH, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES KOCORAS, District Judge
This matter comes before the court on Respondent Blair
Liebach's motion to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the
motion is granted.
Petitioner, Hector Soto ("Soto"), is currently in the custody
of the Danville Correctional Center in Danville, Illinois, and is
identified as prisoner number B16988. Respondent Blair Liebach
("Liebach") is the facility's warden. On November 15, 1999, Soto
pled guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to 44 years
in prison. He did not appeal his conviction or sentence. On April
2, 2002, Soto filed a post-conviction petition, which was denied
on May 13, 2002. He attempted to appeal that ruling but failed to
file the record on appeal within the time allotted by Supreme
Court Rule 326. As a result, the Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the
case for want of prosecution on April 18, 2003. Soto has
exhausted his state court remedies in that he is foreclosed from
further pursuing his constitutional claims in a state court
forum. See 725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq.
On April 15, 2004, Soto filed before this court a petition for
writ of habeas corpus. First, Soto claims ineffective assistance
of trial counsel for failure to request a fitness hearing.
Second, Soto claims that the plea proceedings were unreliable
where the trial court failed to inquire into the effects of
medications prescribed to him where the court had been advised of
the medications. Finally, Soto claims that his guilty plea was
involuntary where he suffered from mental illness and the
corrective medications administered impeded his ability to: 1)
participate in his defense; 2) fully understand the plea
proceedings as a whole; and 3) understand the consequences of
such a plea. Liebach maintains that Soto's petition is
time-barred and must be dismissed. Liebach contends that the
one-year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas
corpus petition began to run on the date on which judgment became
final by the expiration of time allowed for seeking review under
Section 2244(d)(1)(A) of Title 28 of the United States Code.
Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
("AEDPA"), a prisoner in state custody may petition a district
court for a writ of habeas corpus "only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States."
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Section 2244(d)(1) of AEDPA provides that "a 1-year
period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of
habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of
a [s]tate court." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The one year runs from
the latest of several dates, including the date on which the
conviction became final by the conclusion of direct review or the
expiration of the time for seeking such review; the date on which
the impediment to the filing of an application created by state
action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United
States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from filing by
such state action; the date on which the constitutional right
asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the
right had been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made
retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or the
date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims
presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due
diligence. Gutierrez v. Schomig, 233 F.3d 490, 491 (7th Cir.
2000). The limitations period tolls while "a properly filed
application for state post-conviction or other collateral review
with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending."
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). To be "properly filed" a post-conviction
petition must comply with formal filing requirements, such as the
"form of the document, the time limits upon its delivery, the
court and office in which it must be lodged, and the requisite filing fee." Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4, 8, 121 S. Ct. 361,
363-34 (2000). With these considerations in mind we now turn to
Liebach's motion to dismiss Soto's petition for writ of habeas
corpus as untimely.
Liebach contends that, according to Supreme Court Rule 604(d),
Soto's right to appeal in a case involving a guilty plea expired
on December 15, 1999, which was 30 days after November 15, the
date that sentence was imposed. Liebach claims that as a result,
the one-year statute of limitations expired on December 15, 2000.
Soto counters that he was sentenced on November 15, 1999, and
because he took no appeal, the earliest date that Soto was
required to file his post-conviction petition was three years
from the date of conviction, under 725 ILCS 5/122-1(c). This
statutory provision, Soto argues, rendered his post-conviction
petition (filed by Soto on April 2, 2002) due by November 15,
2002. Alternatively, Soto further argues that there is a distinct
possibility that Section 2244(d)(1)(A) of the AEDPA does not
apply in his case or in any case in which a conviction was
obtained via guilty plea. We disagree and find no merit to either
of Soto's assertions.
The one-year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas
petition began to run on the date on which judgment became final
by the expiration of time for seeking review. Under Supreme Court
Rule 604(d), Soto's right to appeal his case, which involved a guilty plea, expired 30 days after November 15, 1999,
the date sentence was imposed. Soto failed to move to withdraw
his guilty plea within the time allotted; thus, the judgment
became final 30 days later on December 15, 1999. Because Soto's
petition was not filed by December 15, 2000, the one-year statute
of limitations period set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244 the petition
Soto contends that his petition is not time-barred because his
post-conviction petition was timely filed. Soto's argument is
misguided. The AEDPA one-year statute of limitations clock began
running on December 15, 1999, the date judgment became final. If
Soto had properly filed a post-conviction petition at some point
within the year following December 15, 1999, the AEDPA statute of
limitations clock would have paused or, put another way, tolled
but not reset itself. The clock would have then continued to run
after the disposition of the post-conviction petition. See
Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 219-20, 122 S. Ct. 2134, 2138
(2002) (discussing the tolling effect that a properly filed
application for state post-conviction review will have on the
AEDPA statute of limitations). Here, Soto did not file his
post-conviction petition until April 2, 2002, well after the
December 15, 2000 deadline according to the AEDPA one-year
statute of limitations. The time between the date of the
expiration of direct review and the date Soto filed his state
post-conviction petition was not tolled because nothing was "pending" in state court. See Lloyd v. Van Natta,
296 F.3d 630, 632 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Love v. Trancoso,
2004 WL 1660629, *2 (N.D. Ill. 2004).
Finally, Soto's argument that Section 2244(d)(1)(A) does not
apply in his case or in any case in which a conviction was
obtained via guilty plea is incorrect as no such exception
exists. Section 2244(d)(1) provides that "a 1-year period of
limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas
corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a
[s]tate court." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) (emphasis added). No
provision of the AEDPA qualifies how the state court judgment
must be reached, whether via a guilty plea or by trial. Numerous
courts have applied AEDPA's provisions involving cases where
guilty pleas were entered. See generally Duncan v. Walker,
533 U.S. 167, 121 S. Ct. 2120 (2001); Altman v. Benik,
337 F.3d 764 (7th Cir. 2003); U.S. ex rel. Andrews v. McAdory, 2004 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 4475 (N.D. Ill. 2004). We therefore conclude that the
AEDPA does apply in the present situation.
Based on the foregoing analysis, Liebach's motion to dismiss is
granted and Soto's petition for writ of habeas corpus is
dismissed with prejudice.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.