United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER AFFIRMING RECOMMENDED DECISION
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Nguyen objects to the recommended decision of the Magistrate
Judge on his petition for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
After performing a de novo review, the Court affirms the
Magistrate Judge's recommended decision, overrules Mr.
Nguyen's objection, and dismisses his petition for a writ
of habeas corpus because Mr. Nguyen filed the petition beyond
the one-year statute of limitations. The Court reviewed and
considered the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Decision,
together with the entire record; the Court has made a de novo
determination of all matters adjudicated by the Magistrate
Judge's Recommended Decision; and the Court concurs with
the recommendations of the United States Magistrate Judge for
the reasons set forth in his Recommended Decision and for the
reasons further set forth herein, and determines that no
further proceeding is necessary.
a February 2006 indictment in state court, in June 2007, a
jury found Huy Van Nguyen guilty of intentional and knowing
murder, a violation of 17- A M.R.S. §
201(1)(A). Mr. Nguyen moved for a new trial and in
January 2008, the trial court denied the motion. In April
2008, the state court sentenced Mr. Nguyen to forty-five
years in prison. In July 2008, the Sentence Review Panel
denied Mr. Nguyen's application for leave to appeal from
the sentence. Mr. Nguyen appealed his conviction to the Maine
Supreme Judicial Court and on March 2, 2010, the Maine
Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the conviction. State v.
Nguyen, 2010 ME 14, 989 A.2d 712 (2010). Mr. Nguyen did
not file a petition for writ of certiorari with the United
States Supreme Court.
December 20, 2011, Mr. Nguyen filed a state court petition
for post-conviction review. See Nguyen v. State, No.
ALFSC-CR-2011-02726 (Me. Super. Ct. York Cnty.). The Maine
Superior Court denied the petition on February 18, 2016 and
the Maine Supreme Judicial Court denied discretionary review
on June 22, 2016. Mr. Nguyen filed another state court
petition for post-conviction review in December 2016 and the
Superior Court summarily dismissed the petition in February
Nguyen filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus with this
Court on June 22, 2017. Pet. under 28 U.S.C. § 2254
for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody
(ECF No. 1). On February 2, 2018, the Warden moved to dismiss
the petition on the ground that it was untimely.
Resp't's Mot. to Dismiss Pet. for Writ of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 20).
On March 14, 2018, this Court referred the motion to dismiss
to the Magistrate Judge for a recommended decision. On April
19, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a recommended decision
and recommended that the Court dismiss the petition as
untimely. Recommended Decision on 28 U.S.C. § 2254
Pet. (ECF No. 23) (Recommended Decision). Mr.
Nguyen objected to the recommended decision on April 30,
2018. Pet. Mot., Obj. for State Resp.'s Mot. to
Dismiss (ECF No. 25).
THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S RECOMMENDED DECISION
April 19, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a recommended
decision in which he recommended that the Court grant the
state of Maine's motion to dismiss the petition.
Recommended Decision at 1. The Magistrate
Judge noted that Congress has imposed a strict one-year time
limit within with a petitioner may bring a § 2254
petition. Id. at 3 (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)). The Magistrate Judge concluded that the limitation
period, namely the period within which Mr. Nguyen could bring
a petition, lapsed on May 31, 2011. Id. at 4. The
period during which Mr. Nguyen was seeking post-conviction
review in the state court would not toll the one-year period
because he initiated his state petition on December 20, 2011
and the federal statute of limitations had already run.
Id. In the words of the Magistrate Judge,
“§ 2242(d)(1)(A) cannot toll a limitation period
that has already expired.” Id. at 5. The
Magistrate Judge therefore recommended that Mr. Nguyen's
§ 2254 petition be dismissed. Id. at 5.
HUY VAN NGUYEN'S OBJECTION
objection, Mr. Nguyen recites the chronology of his charge,
trial, and this petition. Pet'r's Mot., Obj. for
State Respondent's Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 25).
However, Mr. Nguyen's description of the sequencing of
the state and federal cases does not address why his federal
petition is not beyond the statute of limitations.
Id. at 1-2.
9, 2018, Mr. Nguyen supplemented his objection by filing a
copy of a motion for reconsideration that he originally filed
with the Maine Superior Court on March 6, 2012.
Pet'r's Mot. for Recons. (ECF No. 27). In
that motion, Mr. Nguyen explained that he has lacked the
assistance of counsel and has found it difficult to
understand “the language, let alone the laws and
statutes of the States.” Id. at 1. Mr. Nguyen
asks the Court to contact a Maine State Superior Court
Justice to confirm that Mr. Nguyen wrote to him in December
2010 to request his assistance in obtaining his trial
material, so that he could file a post-conviction petition.
Id. He says that “no one advised me of any
deadlines or that what I was attempting to file was a post
conviction and not an appeal.” Id. at 2. He
acknowledges that “at some point in time prior to my
time to file a post conviction petition”, the Superior
Court appointed counsel to represent Mr. Nguyen. Id.
He claims that the appointment of counsel by the state court
“shows that I should not be held to a statutory time
limit.” Id. He maintains that “I should
have that time stopped when I wrote to the court asking for
assistance in filing the post conviction.” Id.
objection, Mr. Nguyen does not challenge the Magistrate
Judge's determination that his federal petition was
untimely. Instead, the Court interprets his refiled 2012
motion for reconsideration as urging the Court to excuse the
late habeas petition because he was not represented by
counsel, because his prior attorneys failed to advise him
about the time limits for a federal habeas proceeding, and
because he had difficulty understanding the complexities of
the state and federal court systems, a difficulty compounded
by problems with translation.
Mr. Nguyen does not directly refer to it, equitable tolling
can be available to a litigant who has made a late filing
under § 2244(d)(2).Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S.
631, 649 (2010). However, equitable tolling would be
available to Mr. Nguyen “only if he shows ‘(1)
that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that
some extraordinary circumstance stood in ...