United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Deybi Sanchez, United States of America ex rel., Petitioner, Pro se, Pinckneyville, IL.
For Donald Gaetz, Respondent: Brian McLeish, LEAD ATTORNEY, Illinois Office of the Attorney General, Chicago, IL.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, United States District Judge.
Deybi Sanchez, an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections, has filed a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking to vacate his state court conviction and sentence for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery. Respondent Donald Gaetz, the warden of the prison where Sanchez is incarcerated, has moved to dismiss the petition as untimely.
A one-year limitation period applies to section 2254 habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The clock starts to run from the latest of four dates. See id. § 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D). Two of these conceivably might apply: " the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review," id. § 2244(d)(1)(A), or " the date on which the impediment to filing 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." Id. § 2244(d)(1)(B). The earlier of the two dates, of course, is the " finality" date in section 2244(d)(1)(A).
Sanchez's conviction was affirmed on direct appeal on February 10, 2011. On June 1, 2011, the Illinois Appellate Court denied Sanchez leave to file a petition for rehearing. Sanchez did not file a petition for leave to appeal (PLA) in the Illinois Supreme Court. His conviction therefore became final on July 6, 2011, when the time for filing a PLA expired. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 132 S.Ct. 641, 654, 181 L.Ed.2d 619 (2012). If section 2244(d)(1)(A) provides the applicable start date for the limitation period, July 6, 2011 is when the one-year clock started to run.
The certificate of service attached to Sanchez's present habeas corpus petition says that he placed the petition in the mail at Pinckneyville prison on August 9, 2012. That is considered the filing date. See Jones v. Bertrand, 171 F.3d 499, 502 (7th Cir. 1999). Thus if the start date in section 2244(d)(1)(A) applies, Sanchez's habeas corpus petition was filed thirty-four days
too late, unless he can show a basis for tolling the one-year limitation period.
A habeas corpus petitioner claiming equitable tolling bears the burden of persuasion on that issue. See Ray v. Clements, 700 F.3d 993, 1007 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418, 125 S.Ct. 1807, 161 L.Ed.2d 669 (2005)). Under Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 130 S.Ct. 2549, 177 L.Ed.2d 130 (2010), " a petitioner is entitled to equitable tolling only if he shows (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way" and prevented timely filing." Id. at 2562 (internal quotation marks omitted).
In Holland, the Court provided the following guidance for how lower courts are to assess equitable tolling claims:
We have said that courts of equity must be governed by rules and precedents no less than the courts of law. But we have also made clear that often the exercise of a court's equity powers must be made on a case-by-case basis. In emphasizing the need for flexibility, for avoiding mechanical rules, we have followed a tradition in which courts of equity have sought to relieve hardships which, from time to time, arise from a hard and fast adherence to more absolute legal rules, which, if strictly applied, threaten the evils of archaic rigidity. The flexibility inherent in equitable procedure enables courts to meet new situations that demand equitable intervention, and to accord all the relief necessary to correct particular injustices. . . . [C]ourts of equity can and do draw upon decisions made in other similar cases for guidance. Such courts exercise judgment in light of prior precedent, but with awareness of the fact that specific circumstances, often hard to predict in advance, could warrant special treatment in an appropriate case.
Id. at 2562 (internal quotation marks, citations, and ellipsis omitted).
The present habeas corpus petition is not the first one that Sanchez filed. He filed an earlier petition on July 10, 2011, just a few days after the date his conviction became final for purposes of the federal habeas corpus limitation period. See Sanchez v. Madigan, Case No. 11 C 4760. That petition was based on grounds identical to those asserted in the present petition.
The proceedings on Sanchez's first habeas corpus petition were plagued with procedural missteps. Initially, Sanchez failed to use the form that this district prescribes by local rule for section 2254 petitions. For this reason, on July 22, 2011, the ...