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Rice v. Jennings

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 27, 2019

MICHAEL D. RICE, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD JENNINGS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on petitioner Michael D. Rice's petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons discussed below, petitioner will be ordered to amend his petition on a Court-provided form.

         Background

         Following a jury trial, petitioner was convicted of forcible rape, forcible sodomy, kidnapping, and second-degree assault. State of Missouri v. Rice, No. 1122-CR05246-01 (22nd Jud. Cir., St. Louis City).[1] On September 27, 2013, he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms, plus twenty-two years. Petitioner filed a notice of appeal on October 1, 2013. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment on December 6, 2014. State of Missouri v. Rice, No. ED100578 (Mo. App. 2014). Petitioner did not file a motion to transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court.

         Petitioner filed a motion to set aside pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 29.15 on February 26, 2015. State of Missouri v. Rice, No. 1522-CC00653 (22nd Jud. Cir., St. Louis City). The motion was denied on May 1, 2017. Petitioner filed a notice of appeal on June 2, 2017. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of petitioner's Rule 29.15 motion on March 27, 2018. State of Missouri v. Rice, No. ED105634 (Mo. App. 2018). The Court of Appeals issued its mandate on April 18, 2018.

         Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 8, 2019, by placing it in the prison mailing system.[2] (Docket No. 1 at 14).

         Discussion

         Petitioner has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The petition is deficient in two respects. First, petitioner has neglected to set forth any grounds for relief. Second, petitioner's petition appears to be time-barred.

         A. Grounds for Relief

         Rule 2(c) of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts requires petitioner to “specify all grounds for relief available to the petitioner” and to “state the facts supporting each ground.” Petitioner is also required to demonstrate that he has exhausted his state remedies. See White v. Wyrick, 651 F.2d 597, 598 (8th Cir. 1981) (“It is elementary that a § 2254 petitioner must exhaust available state remedies before he is entitled to relief in federal court”).

         Petitioner filed his § 2254 petition on a Court form. This form provides a section for petitioner to assert his grounds for relief. This form also directs petitioner to provide facts supporting his grounds for relief, and to demonstrate that he has exhausted his state remedies. Petitioner has left this section almost entirely blank. For “ground one, ” petitioner writes only “N/A, ” which is a common abbreviation for “not applicable.” (Docket No. 1 at 5). He does not provide any other grounds, he does not provide any supporting facts, and he does not make any attempt to show that he has exhausted his state remedies.

         Petitioner's assertion of “N/A” does not supply a ground for relief, as it does not show that he is being held “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Moreover, since he has not provided any grounds for relief, it is not possible to determine whether he has exhausted those grounds in state court. Therefore, petitioner has failed to demonstrate that he is entitled to relief pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.

         B. Timeliness

         Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Congress established a one-year statute of limitations period for petitioners seeking federal habeas relief from state court judgments. Finch v. Miller, 491 F.3d 424, 426 (8th Cir. 2007). This one-year statute of limitations begins to run on the latest of four alternative dates. Jihad v. Hvass, 267 F.3d 803, 804 (8th Cir. 2001). Relevant here is the provision stating that a habeas petitioner has one ...


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