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Thomason v. State

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division

February 5, 2019

WILLIS LOUIS THOMASON, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF MONTANA, JAMES SALMONSEN, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MONTANA, Respondents.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          JEREMIAH C. LYNCH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Thomason's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Thomason is a state prisoner proceeding pro se.

         I. Background

         On December 14, 2018, this Court ordered Thomason to show cause as to why his petition should not be dismissed as time-barred and procedurally defaulted and was informed how he might make such a showing. (Doc. 12 at 4-8.) Thomason timely responded. (Doc. 13.)

         In his response, Thomason generally asserts his “severe mental defect” as cause to excuse both his untimely filing and his default. Id. at 2-3. Thomason states that had he not suffered from mental health issues, he would not have pled guilty to two counts of Robbery. Id. at 3. Thomason also asserts that the State of Montana has imposed a cruel and unusual punishment upon him and, that in viewing all the available evidence in a light most favorable to him, this Court should find Thomason not guilty.

         II. Analysis

         As explained below, Thomason's petition should be dismissed with prejudice, because it is untimely and the claims are procedurally defaulted without excuse.

         i. Timeliness

         As previously explained to Thomason, the AEDPA imposes a one-year statue of limitations for filing a petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C. §2244; see also, (Doc. 12 at 4-5) (explaining application of federal limitations period). The limitations period begins to run on the date the conviction becomes final. 28 U.S.C. §2244 (d)(1). This limitations period may be equitably tolled in certain circumstance. Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 647 (2010).

         “[A] petitioner is ‘entitled to equitable tolling' only if he shows (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary stood in his way' and prevented timely filing.” Holland, 560 U.S. at 649 (quoting Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005)); see also Miles v. Prunty, 187 F.3d 1104, 1107 (9th Cir. 1999) (“When external forces, rather than a petitioner's lack of diligence, account for the failure to file a timely claim, equitable tolling of the statute of limitations may be appropriate.”) The petitioner bears the burden of showing that this “extraordinary exclusion” should apply and the requirements are “very high, lest the exceptions swallow the rule.” Miranda v. Castro, 292 F.3d 1963, 1065-66 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Waldron Ramsey v. Pacholke, 556 F.3d 1008, 1011 (9th Cir. 2009) (characterizing the Circuit's application of equitable tolling doctrine as “sparing” and a “rarity.”) Additionally, a petitioner must establish a “causal connection” between the extraordinary circumstance and his failure to file a timely petition. Bryant v. Arizona Attorney General, 499 F.3d 1056, 1060 (9th Cir. 2007).

         Cognitive impairments may provide a basis for equitable tolling if the impairment caused the untimely filing. Spitsyn v. Moore, 345 F.3d 796, 799 (2003). The Ninth Circuit established a two-part test to be employed in determining whether equitable tolling is appropriate:

(1) First, a petitioner must show his mental impairment was an “extraordinary circumstance” beyond his control, by demonstrating the impairment was so severe that either
a. petitioner was unable rationally or factually to personally understand the need to timely file, or
b. petitioner's mental state rendered him unable personally to prepare a habeas petition and to ...

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