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Alexander v. Hall

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division

March 6, 2017

JOHN T. ALEXANDER, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN HILTON HALL; and SAMUEL S.OLENS, Respondents.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Movant John T. Alexander (“Alexander”), who is currently incarcerated at Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls, Georgia, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his convictions obtained in the Camden County, Georgia, Superior Court. (Doc. 1.) Homer Bryson, former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, filed a Motion to Intervene as Party Respondent, (doc. 12), and Respondent Samuel S. Olens filed a Motion to Dismiss as Party Respondent, (docs. 13). In addition, Respondent Bryson filed an Answer-Response and a Motion to Dismiss, (docs. 10, 11). Alexander filed a Response to Respondents' Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 18.) For the reasons which follow, the Court GRANTS former Commissioner Bryson's Motion to Intervene as Party Respondent.[1](Doc. 12.) I RECOMMEND that the Court GRANT Respondent Samuel S. Olens' Motion to Dismiss as a Party Respondent, (doc. 13), GRANT Respondent's Motion to Dismiss, (doc. 11), DISMISS Alexander's Petitioner, and CLOSE this case. I also RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Alexander a Certificate of Appealability and DENY in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         Alexander was convicted on August 27, 2008, after entering a guilty plea, in the Camden County, Georgia, Superior Court of two counts of child molestation. (Doc. 14-2, pp. 1-2.) Pursuant to Alexander's negotiated plea agreement, he received a split sentence of twenty (20) years, with ten (10) years to be served in prison, followed by ten (10) years' probation. (Id.) Alexander did not file a direct appeal.

         Alexander filed a state habeas corpus petition in the Coffee County, Georgia, Superior Court on September 17, 2012. (Doc. 14-1.) Alexander asserted that his guilty plea was not entered into knowingly and voluntarily, that he was denied effective assistance of counsel, and that the trial court violated his due process rights. (Id. at 4.) Following an evidentiary hearing on November 13, 2013, the state habeas court denied relief on September 22, 2014. (Doc. 14-2.) The Georgia Supreme Court denied Alexander's application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal the state habeas court's denial of relief on March 30, 2015. (Doc. 14-4.)

         DISCUSSION

         Alexander filed this federal petition for writ of habeas corpus on September 9, 2015. (Doc. 1.) Alexander challenges his Camden County convictions on two grounds. First, Alexander alleges ineffective assistance of counsel, citing his attorney's failure to interview witnesses and failure to advise Alexander of his right to appeal his conviction. (Id. at p. 7.) Second, Alexander alleges that his guilty plea was not knowing or voluntary. (Id.) Respondent avers Alexander's petition was untimely filed and should, therefore, be dismissed. (Doc. 11.)

         I. Motion to Intervene, (doc. 12), and Motion to Dismiss as a Party Respondent, (doc. 13)

         Plaintiff named Hilton Hall, Warden of Coffee Correctional Facility, and Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General of the State of Georgia, as Respondents in this action. Homer Bryson, former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, filed a motion with the Court to intervene in the present matter, (doc. 12), and Respondent Samuel S. Olens filed a Motion to Dismiss as a party Respondent, (doc. 13). The only proper respondent in this Section 2254 action is the state officer having custody of the petitioner. See Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. Because the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections is the state entity in charge of Georgia's penal institutions, including Coffee Correctional Facility, a privately-run contract facility, Warden Hilton Hall and Samuel S. Olens are not proper respondents in this case and should be dismissed. See O.C.G.A. § 42-2-6; Clemons v. Owens, No. CV 114-129, 2015 WL 858390, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 27, 2015).

         Therefore, after careful consideration and for good cause shown, the Court GRANTS former Commissioner Homer Bryson's Motion to Intervene. (Doc. 12.) Because Gregory C. Dozier is the current Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Clerk of Court is AUTHORIZED and DIRECTED to change the name of the Respondent to Gregory C. Dozier, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, upon the docket and record of this case. Consequently, I RECOMMEND that the Court GRANT Respondent Olens' Motion to Dismiss as a Party Respondent, (doc. 13), and DISMISS Warden Hilton Hall and Samuel S. Olens as Respondents.

         II. Whether Alexander's Petition was Timely Filed

         Respondent raised the issue of the timeliness of Alexander's petition in his Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 11.) To determine whether Alexander's Petition was filed in a timely manner, the Court must look to the applicable statute of limitations periods. A prisoner must file a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court within one (1) year. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). This statute of limitations period shall run from the latest of four possible dates:

(A) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of time for seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was ...

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