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Renfrew v. Davis

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

April 3, 2019

NED CARLOS RENFREW, TDCJ #1929324, Petitioner,
v.
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SIM LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Ned Carlos Renfrew (TDCJ #1929324) has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody ("Petition") (Docket Entry No. 1) to challenge a conviction entered against him in Harris County, Texas. He has also filed a Memorandum in Support of the Petition ("Memorandum") (Docket Entry No. 2) and a Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing (Docket Entry No. 3) . After considering all of the pleadings and the applicable law pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings in the United States District Courts, this case will be dismissed for the reasons explained below.

         I. Background

         On May 7, 2014, Renfrew entered a guilty plea to charges of driving while intoxicated as a third offender ("felony DWI") in Harris County Cause No. 1412939.[1] According to Renfrew, his indictment was enhanced with allegations that he had at least one other prior felony conviction for theft, which elevated the charged offense to a second degree felony under the Texas habitual offender statute.[2] See Tex. Penal Code § 12.42(a). The 337th District Court for Harris County, Texas, accepted Renfrew's guilty plea and sentenced him to 16 years' imprisonment.[3] Because he did not pursue an appeal, Renfrew's conviction became final thirty days later on or about June 7, 2014.[4]

         In a Petition that was executed on March 19, 2019, [5] Renfrew now contends that he is entitled to federal habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 because his 16-year prison sentence was improperly enhanced by prior convictions that were not sufficiently documented or proven by the State and exceeded the range of punishment allowed under Texas law.[6] Renfrew also asserts that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object or properly challenge the documents used to elevate the charges against him to a felony, resulting in an enhanced sentence.[7]

         II. Discussion

         A. The One-Year Statute of Limitations

         According to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (the "AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996), all federal habeas corpus petitions filed after April 24, 1996, are subject to a one-year limitations period found in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), which provides as follows:

(d)(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of-

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;
(B) 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;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Because the pending Petition was filed well after April 24, 1996, the one-year limitations period clearly applies. See Flanagan v. Johnson, 154 F.3d 196, 198 (5th Cir. 1998) (citing Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997)).

         As noted above, Renfrew challenges a state court judgment entered against him on May 7, 2014. Because he did not pursue an appeal, the limitations period began to run pursuant to § 2244(d) (1) (A) no later than June 7, 2014, when his time to pursue a direct appeal expired. See Roberts v. Cockrell, 319 F.3d 690, 694 (5th Cir. 2003) (observing that a conviction becomes final for purposes of ยง 2244(d) (1) (A) "when the time for seeking further direct review in the state court expires"). That date triggered the statute of limitations, which expired one year later on June 7, 2015. The pending Petition, ...


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