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Porchia v. Kelly

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

April 3, 2019

WILLIE PORCHIA PETITIONER
v.
WENDY KELLEY, Director, Arkansas Department of Correction RESPONDENT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

         I. Background

         Pending before the Court is a § 2254 Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Petitioner, Willie Porchia (“Porchia”). Doc. 2. Before addressing Porchia's habeas claims, the Court will review the relevant procedural history of the case in state court.

         On June 20, 2013, a jury in Ouachita County found Porchia guilty of four counts of delivery of a controlled substance within 1, 000 feet of a church. Porchia was sentenced as a habitual offender to four ten-year terms on each of the delivery convictions and four ten-year terms on the proximity enhancement, [2] to be served consecutively. Doc. 10-2.

         Porchia appealed his conviction. On November 19, 2014, the Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed, ruling that neither of the two trial errors raised by Porchia were preserved for appeal.[3] Porchia v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 662 (“Porcia I”).

         On February 19, 2015, Porchia filed a pro se Rule 37 petition in the trial court raising various ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Doc. 10-3 at 366-375. On March 20, 2015, the trial court held that it lacked jurisdiction over Porchia's claims because his Rule 37 Petition was filed beyond the sixty-day time period for seeking such post-conviction relief.[4] Doc. 10-3, pp. 483-82.

         Porchia attempted to appeal the denial of Rule 37 relief, but he filed his pro se notice of appeal too late. On November 17, 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied Porchia's request to file a belated appeal. Porchia v. State, 2016 Ark. 403 (“Porchia II”); Doc. 14-12.

         On January 7, 2019, Porchia, initiated this § 2254 habeas action in which he asserts ten claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, five claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, three claims of trial error, and additional allegations that he was deprived of a fair trial and an impartial jury based on assorted discovery, confrontation, and due process violations. Doc. 1 & 5.[5] Porchia also alleges that that he is “actually innocent” of the sentencing enhancement under Ark. Code Ann. § 5-64-411. Doc. 2 at 22-26.

         In her Response, Respondent argues that Porchia's habeas Petition must be dismissed because all of his claims are both time-barred and procedurally defaulted. Doc. 10. Porchia has filed a Reply. Doc. 12. Thus, the issues are joined and ready for disposition.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court concludes that all of Porchia's habeas claims are barred by the one-year statute of limitations contained in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Accordingly, his habeas Petition must be dismissed, with prejudice.

         II. Discussion

         A. Porchia Is Not Entitled To Any Statutory Tolling

         Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), a one-year statute of limitations governs a state prisoner's federal habeas corpus challenge to his conviction. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). In most cases, including this one, the limitations period begins to run on “the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review.” § 2244(e)(1)(A).

         When a state prisoner fails to seek discretionary review of his conviction in the state's highest court, the judgment becomes “final” when the time for seeking such review expires. Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 150 (2012); see Johnson v. Hobbs, 678 F.3d 607, 610 (8th Cir. 2012) (in cases decided by the Arkansas Court of Appeals, a conviction becomes “final” when the prisoner can no longer file a petition for review with the Arkansas Supreme Court).

         On November 19, 2014, the Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed Porchia's conviction. From that date, Porchia had eighteen calendar days to file a petition for review with the Arkansas Supreme Court. Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 2-4(a) (stating petitions for review must be filed within 18 calendar days of the date of the Arkansas Court of Appeals' decision). Because the eighteenth day fell on Sunday, December 7, 2014, Porchia's last day to file a timely petition for review was December 8, 2014. See Ark. R. App. P. - Crim 17. By electing not to seek such review, Porchia's conviction was final and AEDPA's statute of ...


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