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Rice v. Jennings

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

May 23, 2019

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

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on petitioner Michael D. Rice's amended petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket No. 7). For the reasons discussed below, petitioner will be ordered to show cause why his petition should not be dismissed as time-barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).

         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 (22ndJud. 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 16, 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 his original petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 8, 2019, by placing it in the prison mail system. (Docket No. 1 at 14).[2] On March 27, 2019, the Court granted petitioner's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket No. 5). The Court further ordered petitioner to file an amended complaint, because his original complaint contained no grounds for relief, and appeared to be time-barred. Petitioner was directed to provide his grounds for relief and to demonstrate that his petition was timely. He was given thirty days in which to comply. Petitioner filed an amended petition on April 16, 2019, by placing it in the prison mailing system.

         The Amended Petition

         Petitioner's amended petition contains two grounds for relief. First, he alleges that the trial court erred in rendering a verdict for the crime of second-degree assault because the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction. (Docket No. 7 at 5). Second, he asserts that his appellate counsel failed to raise a meritorious claim that the trial court wrongly allowed propensity evidence into the trial. (Docket No. 7 at 6). He states that both these claims have been exhausted in state court.

         Regarding the timeliness of his petition, petitioner states that his "mail was not delivered to [him] based on prison neglect, interference, or outright abandonment of duty." (Docket No. 7 at 13). Because of this, he alleges that he did not receive notification of the state appellate court's decision until late November 2018.

         Petitioner has attached a letter from his attorney, which is dated October 12, 2018. (Docket No. 7 at 16). In the letter, the attorney states that he is aware that petitioner did not receive the letters sent in April 2018 advising him that the Eastern District Court of Appeals had ruled against him. The attorney further advises that the "clock started ticking again on April 17, 2018, with the issuance of the mandate," and that petitioner should prepare his § 2254 petition "quickly and get it filed." The attorney states that he has enclosed a blank § 2254 form for this purpose.

         Discussion

         The Court ordered petitioner to file an amended complaint that included his proposed grounds for relief and addressed the issue of timeliness. Petitioner has duly filed an amended complaint that includes his grounds for relief and an assertion that these grounds were exhausted. The amended petition does not, however, adequately address the statute of limitations issue. Specifically, petitioner has not established that his petition is timely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). As such, petitioner will be directed to show cause as to why his petition should not be dismissed as time-barred.

         A. 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 year from ...


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