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Booth v. Holbrook

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

June 21, 2018

ERIC LEE BOOTH, Petitioner,
v.
DONALD R. HOLBROOK, Respondent.

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          Stanley A. Bastian United States District Judge

         Before the Court are Eric Lee Booth's Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 5, and Amended Motion for Equitable Tolling for Federal Habeas 2254, ECF No. 6. Petitioner seeks federal habeas relief from his Washington murder conviction on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, and requests the Court excuse the untimeliness of his petition on the basis of equitable tolling due to mental impairment.

         To benefit from equitable tolling due to mental impairment, Petitioner must satisfy the two-prong test established in Bills v. Clark, 628 F.3d 1092, 1099-1100 (9th Cir. 2010). For the reasons set-forth below, the Court finds Petitioner has not provided sufficient evidence to justify equitable tolling of the federal habeas limitations period. Accordingly, the Court denies Petitioner's Amended Motion for Equitable Tolling for Federal Habeas 2254, ECF No. 6, and dismisses as untimely Petitioner's Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 5.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 7, 2012, Eric Lee Booth (“Petitioner”) pleaded guilty to First Degree Murder, Premeditated Murder and Felony Murder, in violation of Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.32.030(1)(a) and (c). State Court Record, ECF No. 10, Ex. 1. The Stevens County Superior Court sentenced Petitioner to 320 months incarceration, a sentence that fell within the standard sentencing range.[1] ECF No. 10-1 at 5.

         On September 5, 2014, Petitioner filed a document in the Washington Court of Appeals, Division III, captioned “Motion to Appoint Attorney, ” along with an introduction that states he was “filing for a PRP after the 1 year limit on the grounds of newly discovered evidence.” ECF No. 10, Ex. 4. The Court of Appeals construed Petitioner's motion as a personal restraint petition (“PRP”), and dismissed it as untimely under Washington law. Id. Ex. 5.

         Petitioner sought discretionary review by the Washington Supreme Court. Id. Ex. 6. The Washington Supreme Court denied review on June 25, 2015, finding the Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing Petitioner's PRP as untimely. Id. Ex. 7.

         On October 3, 2016, Petitioner filed a second PRP to the Washington Court of Appeals, Division III, challenging his conviction on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. Ex. 9. He requested the Court to consider his otherwise untimely petition on the basis of equitable tolling due to mental incompetence. Id. The Court of Appeals dismissed the PRP as untimely. Id. Ex. 11. Petitioner's request for discretionary review was denied on June 21, 2017. Id. Exs. 12-13. The Washington Supreme Court found Petitioner's PRP was successive, untimely, and that he had failed to show circumstances to justify equitable tolling.

         On January 22, 2018, Petitioner filed a third PRP with the Washington Supreme Court challenging the factual basis of his conviction. Id. Ex. 15. The Washington Supreme Court transferred the PRP to the Washington Court of Appeals, Division III. Id. Ex. 16. The Court of Appeals dismissed Petitioner's third PRP as untimely. Id. Ex. 17. Petitioner did not seek discretionary review.

         On January 10 2018, Petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 1, and Motion for Equitable Tolling, ECF No. 2. Petitioner later submitted an Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 5, and Amended Motion for Equitable Tolling for Federal Habeas 2254, ECF No. 6. Petitioner seeks federal habeas relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, and requests the Court excuse the untimeliness of his petition on the basis of equitable tolling due to mental impairment.

         On March 16, 2018, the Court Ordered Respondent to respond to the Amended Petition. ECF No. 7. Respondent timely filed its response. ECF No. 9.

         STANDARD

         A petition for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a prisoner in state custody is brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Relief from § 2254 is limited to “violation[s] of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Where the challenged judgment became final after April 24, 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) establishes a one-year limitations period for seeking federal habeas review. See Id. § 2244(d)(1).

         The limitations clock begins to 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 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 ...

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