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Crawford v. Benton

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

March 28, 2017

COMMINY CRAWFORD, Petitioner,
v.
BROOKS L. BENTON, Respondent.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKERUNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner Comminy Crawford ("Crawford"), who is currently incarcerated at Whitworth Women's Facility in Hartwell, Georgia, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging her conviction obtained in the Toombs County, Georgia, Superior Court. (Doc. 1.) Respondent filed an Answer-Response and a Motion to Dismiss, (docs. 17, 18), and Crawford filed a Response to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 21.) For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Respondent's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 18.)

         BACKGROUND

         Crawford entered an Alford[1] plea to one count of shoplifting in the Toombs County Superior Court on November 19, 2014. (Doc. 19-1, p. 1.) She was given a sentence often years, with five to serve in prison, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7(c). (Id.) Crawford did not file a direct appeal.

         Crawford filed a motion to modify her sentence in the Toombs County, Georgia, Superior Court on May 15, 2015, which that court denied on May 21, 2015. (Docs. 19-2, 19-3.) Crawford then filed a state habeas corpus petition on June 9, 2015.[2] (Doc. 19-4.) She alleged prosecutorial misconduct and that she was denied effective assistance of counsel. (Doc. 19-4, pp. 5-6.) Following an evidentiary hearing on October 28, 2015, the state habeas court denied relief on March 22, 2016. (Doc. 19-5.) Crawford did not file an application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal the state habeas court's denial of relief.

         DISCUSSION

         Crawford filed this federal petition for writ of habeas corpus on November 7, 2016. (Doc. 1.) Crawford challenges her Toombs County convictions on four grounds. First, Crawford alleges that her counsel was ineffective because her counsel failed to appropriately investigate the facts pertaining to Crawford's shoplifting charges. (Id. at p. 7.) Second, Crawford alleges that she was improperly classified as a repeat offender under O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7(c). (Id.) Third, Crawford alleges prosecutorial misconduct, citing the prosecutor's failure to provide notice that he intended to introduce her prior convictions. (Id.) Finally, Crawford alleges that her counsel failed to present any mitigating circumstances. (Id.)

         Respondent avers Crawford's Petition was untimely filed and should be dismissed. (Doc. 18.) Crawford responds that, if her Petition is untimely, the Court should excuse her untimeliness because the state habeas court "sent paperwork and legal documents late and to [the] wrong address." (Doc. 21, p. 1.) The Court now addresses Respondent's assertion.

         To determine whether Crawford'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 prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that 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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