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Mejia v. Director, Tdcj-Cid

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

March 29, 2017

DINO CONTRERAS MEJIA
v.
DIRECTOR, TDCJ-CID

          MEMORANDUM ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS AND ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          AMOS L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Dino Contreras Mejia, a prisoner confined at the Darrington Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, filed these petitions for writs of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         The Court referred this matter to the Honorable Christine A. Nowak, United States Magistrate Judge, for consideration pursuant to applicable laws and orders of the Court. The magistrate judge has submitted a report recommending denying the petition.

         The Court has received and considered the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge, along with the record, pleadings, and all available evidence. The parties filed objections to the Report and Recommendation.

         The Court has conducted a de novo review of the objections in relation to the pleadings and the applicable law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). After careful consideration, the Court concludes the objections are without merit.

         Procedural History

         The petitioner is in custody pursuant to eight judgments entered in the 362nd Judicial District Court of Denton County, Texas. The petitioner was convicted of burglary of habitations in cause numbers F-2008-1891-D, F-2008-1892-D, F-2008-1893-D, F-2008-1894-D, F-2008-1895-D, F-2008-1896-D, F-2008-2245-D, and F-2008-2246-D. The petitioner was sentenced to seventy-five years for each offense, with the sentences to run concurrently with each other and consecutively to a sentence previously imposed in Dallas County, Texas.

         After pursuing relief from the judgments in the state courts, the petitioner filed eight federal habeas petitions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Each petition challenged one or more of the burglary convictions. The petitioner raised six grounds for review with respect to each of his eight convictions. First, the petitioner contends the state courts erred by holding that the evidence of an extraneous offense did not contribute to his convictions and that the order cumulating the petitioner's sentences was not defective. The petitioner alleges there was insufficient evidence to support the verdicts. The petitioner contends the trial court erred by: (1) allowing testimony that violated the petitioner's rights under the Confrontation Clause; (2) denying the petitioner's motion to suppress; and (3) allowing the State to introduce evidence of an extraneous offense. With respect to cause number F-2008-1894-D, the petitioner also contends counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to: (1) present an identification expert witness; (2) request a jury instruction on in-court identification; and (3) move to suppress identification testimony.

         The magistrate judge found that the statute of limitations barred review of the judgments in cause numbers F-2008-1891-D, F-2008-1892-D, F-2008-1893-D, F-2008-1895-D, F-2008-1896-D, F-2008-2245-D, and F-2008-2246-D. The magistrate judge reviewed the merits of each claim with respect to cause number F-2008-1894-D and concluded that the claims lack merit.

         Objections

         Both parties filed objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. With respect to cause number F-2008-1894-D, the respondent contends that several claims are unexhausted and procedurally barred because they were not presented to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in a petition for discretionary review (PDR) or a state habeas application. The petitioner objects to the magistrate judge's finding that the judgments in cause numbers F-2008-1891-D, F-2008-1892-D, F-2008-1893-D, F-2008-1895-D, F-2008-1896-D, F-2008-2245-D, and F-2008-2246-D are barred by the statute of limitations. The petitioner also contends the magistrate judge erred by recommending the denial of the petitioner's claims of a Confrontation Clause violation, ineffective assistance of counsel, insufficiency of the evidence, an improper cumulation order, and the erroneous denial of a motion to suppress.

         Statute of Limitations

         The petitioner asserts the magistrate judge incorrectly concluded that the judgments in cause numbers F-2008-1891-D, F-2008-1892-D, F-2008-1893-D, F-2008-1895-D, F-2008-1896-D, F-2008-2245-D, and F-2008-2246-D are barred by the one-year statute of limitations that applies to § 2254 habeas petitions.

         The statute of limitations begins to run from the latest of: (1) the date on which the judgment became final; (2) the date on which an impediment to filing created by unconstitutional state action was removed; (3) the date on which the United States Supreme Court initially recognized the constitutional right if the right is retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or (4) the date on which the ...


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