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Isham v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 7, 2017

Michael Darrin Isham, Petitioner,
Charles L Ryan, et al., Respondents.



         Pending before this Court is Petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Petition”). (Doc. 1). Respondent has filed a Response to which the Petitioner filed a Reply. (Docs. 14; 16). The Magistrate Judge to whom this case was assigned issued a Report and Recommendation. (“R&R”) (Doc. 17). In the R&R, the Magistrate Judge recommended that that the Petition be denied and dismissed because it is barred by the statute of limitations. The R&R further recommended that a certificate of appealability be denied. In response, Petitioner filed an Objection to the R&R. (Doc. 18).

         This Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Further, this court must review the “portions of the [Magistrate Judge's] report to which objection is made” by either party. United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc) (emphasis in original); Schmidt v. Johnstone, 263 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1226 (D. Ariz. 2003) (“Following Reyna-Tapia, this Court concludes that de novo review of factual and legal issues is required if objections are made, ‘but not otherwise.'”).

         I. Objection

         Petitioner's Petition and Reply asserted the following single ground for relief:

He claims that the prosecutor has refused to disclose a videotape that would exonerate Petitioner and that Petitioner's counsel has failed to request the videotape. Petitioner asserts that this violates his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as his rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

(Doc. 5 at 2). Petitioner's Objection to the R&R essentially reargues claims already made in his Petition and Reply. (Docs. 1; 16; 18). The only new, cognizable claim the Court was able to identify in the Objection was Petitioner's argument that the purported destruction of the videotape on October 15, 2015 constituted newly discovered evidence and would be a factual predicate that would reset the limitations period to start running from that date. (Doc. 18 at 3).

         The R&R based its decision solely on the statute of limitations and did not address Respondents other defenses. (Doc. 17 at 13). Therefore, in accordance with Reyna-Tapia, the Court will limit its de novo review to the sole objected to issue of whether or not the videotape's purported destruction will impact the commencement of the limitations period.

         II. Statute of Limitations

         Petitions for writs of habeas corpus are governed by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) which provides a one-year statute of limitations for petitioners to state their claims. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) (2006). Normally the limitations period begins “when the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review of the expiration of the time for seeking such review, ” but it can be reset to “the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A), (D). The period of direct review before the judgment becomes final includes a “90-day period within which a petitioner can file for a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court, even if the petitioner does not actually file such a petition.” Spitsyn v. Moore, 345 F.3d 796, 798 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Bowen v. Roe, 188 F.3d 1157, 1159 (9th Cir. 1999).

         Here, Petitioner's judgment became final on July 28, 2013, 90 days after the Arizona Supreme Court denied review of Petitioner's direct appeal on April 29, 2013. (Docs. 1 at 3; 17 at 3). AEDPA's one-year statute of limitations began to run the next day giving Petitioner until July 29, 2014 to file his Petition, absent any factors which would provide tolling.

         A. Factual Predicates

         Petitioner argues that a videotape he claims was suppressed by the prosecution would exonerate him and that the destruction of the videotape on October 15, 2015 qualifies as newly discovered evidence that would be a factual predicate of this claim and reset the start date of the one year limitations period. (Doc. 18 at 3).

         “Section 2244(d)(1)(D) provides a petitioner with a later accrual date than section 2244(d)(1)(A) only if vital facts could not have been known by the date the appellate process ended. The due diligence clock starts ticking when a person knows or through diligence could discover the vital facts, regardless of when their legal significance is ...

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