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Schultz v. Kent

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 18, 2018

WILLIAM SCHULTZ
v.
JASON KENT, WARDEN

         SECTION “I” (2)

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOSEPH C. WILKINSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct hearings, including an evidentiary hearing, if necessary, and to submit proposed findings and recommendations for disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(B) and (C) and, as applicable, Rule 8(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Upon review of the entire record, I have determined that a federal evidentiary hearing is unnecessary. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2).[1] For the following reasons, I recommend that the instant petition for habeas corpus relief be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as time-barred.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The petitioner, William Schultz, is a convicted inmate currently incarcerated in the Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana.[2] On June 27, 2013, Schultz was charged by bill of information in St. Tammany Parish with two counts of sexual battery of 5-year-old AV and two counts of sexual battery of 7-year-old KW.[3] Schultz initially entered a not guilty plea to the charges that same day.[4] However, on April 22, 2014, during the second day of his jury trial, Schultz withdrew his not guilty plea and pled guilty to all four counts.[5] At the same hearing, the court adjudicated him a second felony offender and sentenced him to serve 50 years in prison on each count concurrently without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.[6]

         Schultz's conviction became final thirty (30) days later, on May 22, 2014, when he did not seek reconsideration of the sentence or pursue a direct appeal. Roberts v. Cockrell, 319 F.3d 690, 694-95 (5th Cir. 2003) (under federal habeas law, a conviction is final when the state defendant does not timely proceed to the next available step in the state appeal process); see Cousin v. Lensing, 310 F.3d 843, 845 (5th Cir. 2002) (petitioner's guilty pleas became final at the end of the period for filing a notice of appeal under La. Code Crim. P. art. 914[7]).

         In the meantime, on May 20, 2014, Schultz filed a motion with the state trial court seeking to withdraw his guilty plea.[8] The court summarily denied the motion on May 22, 2014, and notice of the ruling eventually was issued to Schultz on June 17, 2014.[9]Schultz did not seek review of this order.

         Almost eleven months later, on May 12, 2015, Schultz signed and submitted to the state trial court an application for post-conviction relief asserting three claims:[10] (1) The state trial court erred when it accepted an infirm guilty plea without a showing that it was intelligently and knowingly made. (2) He was denied effective assistance of counsel because counsel did not object to the lack of evidence and failed to investigate to avoid untruthful testimony from witnesses at trial. (3) He requested a review for errors patent. (4) The trial court imposed an excessive sentence.

         On June 30, 2015, the state trial court denied relief, finding the first two claims meritless, and the third and fourth claims procedurally improper for post-conviction review, citing La. Code Crim. P. art. 930.3 and State ex rel. Melinie v. State, 665 So.2d 1172 (La. 1996).[11] Schultz did not seek review of this ruling.

         More than five months later, on December 2, 2015, Schultz signed and submitted a second application for post-conviction relief asserting that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his counsel failed to assert an insanity defense, move for severance of the counts, object or move to reconsider the sentence, or file a motion to suppress the confession.[12] He also argued that the state trial court erred when it denied his motion to withdraw the guilty plea.[13]

         On December 21, 2015, the state trial court denied relief, finding the application repetitive under La. Code Crim. P. art. 930.4 and otherwise improper for post-conviction review under La. Code Crim. P. art. 930.3.[14] Notice of this ruling was issued to Schultz on December 29, 2015.[15]

         On March 21, 2016, the Louisiana First Circuit denied Schultz's related writ application without stated reasons.[16] On September 6, 2017, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied Schultz's writ application, finding no showing of error in the state trial court's dismissal of the claims as repetitive and successive, citing La. Code Crim. P. art. 930.4 and State ex rel. Rice v. State, 749 So.2d 650 (La. 1999).[17]

         III. FEDERAL HABEAS PETITION

         On February 15, 2018, the clerk of this court filed Schultz's federal habeas corpus petition in which he asserts the he was denied effective assistance of counsel when his counsel failed to seek a mental evaluation and present expert testimony about his mental capacity to stand trial and intelligently and knowingly enter the guilty plea.[18] The State filed a response in opposition to Schultz's federal petition asserting that the petition is time-barred.[19]

         III. GENERAL STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, comprehensively revised federal habeas corpus legislation, including 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The AEDPA went into effect on April 24, 1996[20] and applies to habeas petitions filed after that date. Flanagan v. Johnson, 154 F.3d 196, 198 (5th Cir. 1998) (citing Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997)). The AEDPA therefore applies to Schultz's petition, which, for reasons discussed below, is deemed filed on February 12, 2018.[21] The threshold questions in habeas review under the amended statute are whether the petition is timely and whether petitioner's claims were adjudicated on the merits in state court; i.e., the petitioner must have exhausted state court remedies and must not be in “procedural default” on a claim. Nobles v. Johnson, 127 F.3d 409, 419-20 (5th Cir. 1997) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c)).

         The State asserts and the record establishes that Schultz's federal petition was not timely filed. Schultz's petition should therefore be dismissed as time-barred.

         IV. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

         The AEDPA requires that a Section 2254 petition must ordinarily be filed within one year of the date the conviction became final.[22] Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 179-80 (2001). Schultz's conviction became final on May 22, 2014, which was 30 days after his guilty plea and sentencing, which he did not appeal. Applying Section 2244 literally, Schultz had one year from finality of his conviction, until May 22, 2015, to file his federal habeas corpus petition, which he did not do. His petition must be dismissed as untimely, unless the one-year statute of limitations was interrupted or otherwise tolled in either of the following two ways recognized in the applicable law.

         First, the United States Supreme Court has held that AEDPA's one-year statute of limitations period in Section 2244(d)(1) may be equitably tolled only when the petitioner has pursued his rights diligently and rare or extraordinary circumstances exist which prevented timely filing. Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005); Fisher v. Johnson, 174 F.3d 710, 713 (5th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1164 (2001); Cantu-Tzin v. Johnson, 162 F.3d 295, 299 (5th Cir. 1998); Davis v. Johnson, 158 F.3d 806, 810 (5th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1074 (1999). Equitable tolling is warranted only in situations where the petitioner ...


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