United States District Court, E.D. Michigan
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO
DISMISS AND ORDERING RESPONDENT TO FILE RESPONSIVE
L. LUDINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Roosevelt Watts, a Michigan Department of Corrections
prisoner serving a life sentence, filed this petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Petitioner challenges his Wayne Circuit Court jury trial
conviction of one count of first-degree murder, Mich. Comp.
Laws § 750.316, and one count of possession of a firearm
during the commission of a felony. Mich. Comp. Laws §
matter is before the Court on the Respondent's motion to
dismiss the petition as untimely filed. Petitioner has filed
a response to the motion, asserting that the Respondent's
calculations are incorrect and that his petition was timely
filed. For the reasons stated below, the Court will deny the
Respondent's motion and order the Respondent to file a
responsive pleading to the petition.
his conviction and sentence, Petitioner filed an appeal of
right with the Michigan Court of Appeals. On March 25, 2008,
the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion
reversing his convictions. People v. Watts, No.
272369, 2008 WL 782588 (Mich. Ct. App. Mar. 25, 2008). The
prosecutor filed an application for leave to appeal in the
Michigan Supreme Court. On September 10, 2008, the Michigan
Supreme Court vacated the Michigan Court of Appeals'
decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings.
People v. Watts, 755 N.W.2d 188 (Mich. 2008). The
Michigan Court of Appeals then issued an unpublished opinion
affirming Petitioner's convictions. People v.
Watts, No. 272369, 2009 WL 3321511 (Mich. Ct. App. Oct.
15, 2009). Petitioner sought leave to appeal in the Michigan
Supreme Court, but the application was denied on January 29,
2010. People v. Watts, 777 N.W.2d 420 (Mich. 2010)
(table). Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was
denied on March 29, 2010, ending his direct appeal.
People v. Watts, 779 N.W.2d 810 (Mich. 2010)
statute of limitations purposes, Petitioner's conviction
became final 90-days later, on June 28, 2010, when the time
for filing a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United
States Supreme Court expired. See 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1)(A); Jimenez v. Quarterman, 555 U.S. 113,
120 (2009) (explaining that a conviction becomes final when
“the time for filing a certiorari petition
the statute of limitations began running, on April 16, 2010,
Petitioner filed his first petition for habeas corpus with
this Court. Watts v. Howes, E.D. Mich. No.
1:10-cv-11548. On February 7, 2011, Petitioner moved to hold
the petition in abeyance so he could present new claims to
the state courts. On March 8, 2011, the Court denied the
motion, noting that abeyance was not warranted because the
petition was filed before the statute of limitations began
running. Id., Dkt. 13, at 2. The Court further noted
that limitations period would be equitably tolled for the
time the first petition had been pending:
While the time in which this case has been pending in federal
court is not statutorily tolled, see Duncan v.
Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-82 (2001) (a federal habeas
petition is not an “application for State
postconviction or other collateral review” within the
meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) so as to statutorily
toll the limitations period), such time is equitably tolled.
See, e.g., Johnson v. Warren, 344 F.Supp.2d 1081,
1088-89 (E.D. Mich. 2004). The limitations period will also
be tolled during the time in which any properly filed
post-conviction or collateral actions are pending in the
state courts. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); Carey v.
Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 219-221 (2002). Given that the
full one-year period remains, Petitioner has sufficient time
to exhaust additional issues in the state courts and return
to federal court should he wish to do so.
Id., at 2.
then moved to dismiss the petition without prejudice, and the
Court granted the motion on April 11, 2011. Id., at
30, 2011, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment
in the state trial court. The trial court denied the motion
on October 14, 2011. Petitioner filed a delayed application
for leave to appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals that was
denied on September 13, 2012. People v. Watts, No.
314132 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 13, 2013). Petitioner next filed
an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme
Court, but it was denied on June 28, 2016. People v.
Watts, 880 N.W.2d 573 (Mich. 2016) (table).
dated his present petition on August 12, 2016, and it was
filed with the Court on August 16, 2016.
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)
provides a one-year period of limitation for a habeas
petition filed by a state prisoner seeking habeas relief from
a state court judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The
limitation runs from one of four specified dates, usually
either the day when the judgment becomes final by the
conclusion of direct review or the day when the time for
seeking such review expires. § 2244(d)(1)(A). The
limitation period is tolled ...