United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division
RONALD WAYNE THOMPSON, TDCJ No. 01648728, Petitioner,
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. MARTINEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
day, the Court considered Petitioner Ronald Wayne
Thompson's [hereinafter “Petitioner”] pro se
“Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in
State Custody” pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF
No. 1) [hereinafter “Petition”],
filed on September 10, 2018, in the above captioned cause.
Therein, Petitioner challenges Respondent Lorie Davis's
[hereinafter “Respondent”] custody over him based
on his guilty-plea conviction for murder, enhanced, in Cause
Number 20080D00241 in the 210th Judicial District Court in El
Paso County, Texas. The Court also considered
Respondent's “Answer with Brief in Support”
(ECF No. 16) [hereinafter “Answer”] and the state
court records each filed on January 8, 2019 (ECF Nos. 11-15).
Therein, Respondent argues that the Court should dismiss the
Petition because the claims are time-barred.
due consideration, having reviewed the Petition, Answer, and
state court records, the Court is of the opinion that
Petitioner's claims are time-barred and that Petitioner
is not entitled to equitable tolling, for the reasons that
follow. Accordingly, the Court will deny the Petition and
dismiss this cause with prejudice. Additionally, the Court
will deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
January 23, 2008, Petitioner was indicted by a grand jury for
capital murder. Clerk's R. 5 (Indictment), Jan. 8, 2019,
ECF No. 15-2. Subsequently, he pleaded guilty to the lesser
included offense of murder as part of a plea agreement with
the State. Id. at 40 (Mem. in Supp. of State Writ,
July 12, 2017); Supp. Clerk's R. 6-12 (Plea Agreement,
May 19, 2010), Jan. 8, 2019, ECF No. 13-1. Petitioner did not
object to the following summary of the facts presented by the
prosecutor during his plea hearing:
If this case were to have proceeded to trial, the State would
have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that on or about the
31st day of July, 2007, in the County of El Paso, State of
Texas, Ronald Thompson, hereinafter referred to as defendant,
did then and there intentionally cause the death of an
individual, namely Haley Chan, by striking Haley Chan about,
the head . . . [w]ith . . . [a] board.
Reporter's R. 15-16 (Plea Tr., May 19, 2010), Jan. 8,
2019, ECF No. 12-1. In addition, Petitioner pleaded guilty to
two enhancements. Clerk's R. 6 (J. of Conviction - Waiver
of Jury Trial, May 19, 2010), Jan. 8, 2019, ECF No. 15-2. On
May 19, 2010, he was sentenced to forty years in the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice. Id. Petitioner did
12, 2017, Petitioner filed a state writ application.
Id. at 22-39 (State Appl. For Writ of Habeas Corpus,
July 12, 2017). Therein, Petitioner made two claims. First,
he asserted that his plea was unlawfully induced.
Id. at 27. Second, he asserted that his attorneys
provided ineffective assistance when they failed to reveal to
the trial court that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,
was mentally retarded, and was heavily medicated with
psychotropic drugs. Id. at 29. On December 5, 2017,
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Petitioner's
application without written order. Clerk's R. 1 (Action
Taken), Jan. 8, 2019, ECF No. 11-1.
federal Petition, Petitioner now claims that he “was
heavily medicated for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and
depression . . . with adverse side effects that made it
impossible for [him] to understand what was going on at the
time of trial.” Pet'r's Pet. 6, Sept. 10, 2018,
ECF No. 1. Hence, he argues, his plea was involuntary.
Id. In addition, Petitioner claims that his trial
counsel rendered ineffective assistance by telling him to lie
to the trial court about his mental health and medications,
advising him that he would receive a death sentence if he did
not accept the plea deal, and failing to request a competency
hearing prior to his plea. Id. For the above
reasons, Petitioner asks the Court to “set aside the
guilty plea.” Mem. in Supp. 4, Sept. 10, 2018, ECF No.
pursuant to § 2254 are subject to a one-year statute of
limitations. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The limitations
period runs from the latest of four different events: (1)
when “the judgment became final, ” (2) when
“the impediment to filing an application created by the
State action in violation of the Constitution and laws of the
United States is removed, if the applicant was prevented from
filing by such State action, ” (3) when “the
constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the
Supreme Court . . . and made retroactively applicable to
cases on collateral review, ” or (4) when “the
factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have
been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.”
Id. §§ 2244(d)(1)(A)-(D).
limitations period is tolled by statute when “a
properly filed application for State post-conviction or other
collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or
claim is pending.” Id. § 2244(d)(2).
“[A]n application is ‘properly
filed' when its delivery and acceptance are in compliance
with the applicable laws and rules governing filings . . .
[including] the time limits upon its delivery.”
Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4, 8 (2000) (emphasis in
the limitations period is not jurisdictional and is subject
to equitable tolling. Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S.
631, 645 (2010). However, equitable tolling is not available
for “garden variety claims of excusable neglect.”
Lookingbill v. Cockrell, 293 F.3d 256, 264 (5th Cir.
2002) (quoting Rashidi v. American President Lines,
96 F.3d 124, 128 (5th Cir. 1996)). It is justified only
“in rare and exceptional circumstances.”
Cousin v. Lensing, 310 F.3d 843, 848 (5th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Davis v. Johnson, 158 F.3d 806, 811 (5th
Cir. 1998)). Such circumstances include situations where a
petitioner is actively misled by the respondent, “or is
prevented in some extraordinary way from asserting his
rights.” Id. (quoting Coleman v.
Johnson, 184 F.3d 398, 402 (5th Cir. 1999)). Moreover,
“[e]quity is not intended for those who sleep on their
rights.” Fisher v. Johnson, 174 F.3d 710, 715
(5th Cir. 1999) (quoting Covey v. Arkansas River
Co., 865 F.2d 660, 662 (5th Cir. 1989)). Rather,
“[e]quitable tolling is appropriate where, despite all
due diligence, a plaintiff is unable to discover essential
information bearing on the existence of his claim.”
Id. at 715 n.14 (quoting Pacheco v. Rice,
966 F.2d 904, 906-07 (5th Cir. 1992)). Furthermore, a
petitioner has the burden of proving his entitlement to
equitable tolling. Phillips v. Donnelly, 216 F.3d
508, 511 (5th Cir.), modified on reh'g, 223 F.3d
797 (5th Cir. 2000). To satisfy his burden, he must show
“(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently,
and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his
way” of timely filing his § 2254 motion.
Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 336 (2007)
(quoting Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418