United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Laredo Division
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Saldaña United States District Judge.
Rodolfo Garcia, TDCJ No. 01634955, is incarcerated by the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice at the James V. Allred
Unit in Iowa Park, Texas. (Dkt. 1 at 1, 16.) He filed a pro
se petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in state
custody on February 21, 2018. (Dkt. 1.) Magistrate Judge John
Kazen screened the petition under Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases. (Dkt. 10.) He issued a Report
and Recommendation (R&R)concluding that: (1) the petition
was untimely under 28 U.S.C. Section 2244(d)(1); (2) no
circumstances warranted equitable tolling of the limitations
period; and (3) the Court should dismiss the petition. (Dkt.
20 at 1, 4.) Petitioner timely objected to the R&R.
(See Dkts. 23-25.)The Court, having reviewed de novo
those portions of the R&R to which Petitioner objects,
hereby ACCEPTS the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge to
the extent discussed herein. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C). The petition shall be DISMISSED.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(AEDPA), prisoners in state custody have one year to file a
federal habeas petition after their state conviction becomes
“final by the conclusion of direct review or the
expiration of the time for seeking such review.” 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). The statute tolls the
limitations period in three specified instances. Id.
§ 2244(d)(1)(B)-(D). See Flanagan v. Johnson,
154 F.3d 196, 198 (5th Cir. 1998). In addition, courts may
equitably toll the limitations period in “rare and
exceptional circumstances.” Davis v. Johnson,
158 F.3d 806, 811 (5th Cir. 1998). To obtain equitable
tolling, a petitioner must show that (1) he has pursued his
rights diligently, and (2) some extraordinary circumstance
stood in his way and prevented timely filing. Holland v.
Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010). It “applies
principally where the plaintiff is actively misled by the
defendant about the cause of action or is prevented in some
extraordinary way from asserting his rights.”
United States v. Wheaten, 826 F.3d 843, 851 n.57
(5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Coleman v. Johnson, 184
F.3d 398, 402 (5th Cir. 1999) (per curiam), abrogated on
other grounds by Causey v. Cain, 450 F.3d 601, 605 (5th
Cir. 2006)). The petitioner bears the burden of proof and
must establish both diligence and extraordinary circumstances
to prevail. Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 750, 755-56 (2016).
Judge Kazen correctly found that the petition was untimely
absent either statutory or equitable tolling. (See
Dkt. 20 at 2.) He started Petitioner's one-year clock on
November 2, 2016, the date on which the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals (TCCA) dismissed Petitioner's state
habeas corpus petition (id.), and stopped it one
year later on November 2, 2017 (id.). Petitioner
filed the pending motion on February 21, 2018. (Dkt. 1 at 1.)
Thus, as Petitioner concedes, the petition was months late.
(See Id. at 9, Dkt. 24 at 1.)
objects to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that no
circumstances warrant equitable tolling of the limitations
period. (Dkt. 24 at 3; Dkt. 25 at 3; see Dkt. 20 at
3-4.) He argues for equitable tolling on two grounds. First,
he alleges that his prison law libraries ignored his requests
for copies of a form on which to file a federal habeas
petition. (Dkt. 24 at 2-3.) Second, he claims he did
not know the proper legal steps to take after the TCCA denied
his state habeas petition. (Id. at 1.)
Petitioner's objections must be overruled because neither
alleged circumstance equitably tolls the limitations period.
Petitioner alleges that the law libraries ignored his
requests for habeas filing forms, but the Fifth Circuit has
“repeatedly held that an inadequate prison law library
does not constitute a ‘rare and exceptional
circumstance' warranting equitable tolling.”
Robinson v. Johnson, 273 F.3d 1098, at *2 (5th Cir.
2001) (per curiam) (citing Felder v. Johnson, 204
F.3d 168, 171-73 (5th Cir. 2000); Scott v. Johnson,
227 F.3d 260, 263 n.3 (5th Cir. 2000); Fisher v.
Johnson, 174 F.3d 710, 713-14 (5th Cir. 1999)). A claim
that a law library ignored or rejected requests for legal
materials is a claim that a law library was inadequate.
See Tate v. Parker, 439 Fed.Appx. 375, 376 (5th Cir.
2011) (declining to equitably toll the statute for a prisoner
alleging “denial of access to research materials or the
law library”); United States v.
Gilbert-Alvarez, 2006 WL 3761888, at *3, *7 (S.D. Tex.
Dec. 21, 2006) (same, for a claim the library ignored
requests). Petitioner's claim is no different from the
foregoing cases. An inattentive law library is an inadequate
one, but that is not a “rare and exceptional”
circumstance that permits the Court to equitably toll
AEDPA's limitations period.
Petitioner's claimed ignorance of the law is not an
extraordinary circumstance. (See Dkt. 24 at 1.)
“[M]ere ignorance of the law or lack of knowledge of
filing deadlines does not justify equitable tolling or other
exceptions to a law's requirements.”
Felder, 204 F.3d at 171-72 (citing Fisher,
174 F.3d at 714 n.13). Petitioner's pro se status does
not change this analysis. “[P]roceeding pro se is not a
‘rare and exceptional' circumstance because it is
typical of those bringing a § 2254 claim.”
Id. at 171. In sum, Petitioner shows no
extraordinary circumstances and thereby fails to establish
the second of the two required Holland
prongs. See Menominee Indian Tribe, 136
S.Ct. at 756. The Court will therefore accept the Magistrate
Judge's finding that Petitioner is not entitled to
equitable tolling, overrule Petitioner's objections, and
dismiss the petition.
foregoing reasons, the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation (Dkt. 20) is hereby ACCEPTED and the petition
(Dkt. 1) is hereby DISMISSED with prejudice. Petitioner's
Motion for a Hearing (Dkt. 22) is hereby DENIED AS MOOT.
the Court concludes that Petitioner makes no substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right, a
certificate of appealability will not issue. See 28
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). For this reason, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), the Court certifies that any appeal
from this decision would not be taken in ...