United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
HARRY G. SCHMIDT, Petitioner,
STATE OF WISCONSIN, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE
order dated April 12, 2016, the court directed petitioner
Harry Schmidt to supplement his petition for a writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 with information showing
why his petition should not be dismissed as untimely. (Dkt.
#8.) As explained in the order, a petition brought under
§ 2254 has a one-year statute of limitations that begins
to run from the date on which the judgment of conviction is
final. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Schmidt's judgment of
conviction became final on April 21, 2011, his one-year clock
for filing a federal habeas petition began running the next
day, April 22, 2011, and expired on April 21, 2012. Schmidt
did not file his habeas petition until January 13, 2016, more
than three years too late.
one-year deadline may be tolled under the doctrine of
equitable tolling, however, if a petitioner can show that (1)
that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that
some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way and
prevented timely filing. Holland v. Florida, 560
U.S. 631, 649 (2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). In
his response to the April 12 order, Schmidt argues that his
petition should not be dismissed because: (1) the reason he
did not file his petition on time was because the prison was
on lockdown on April 21, 2012, the date it was due; and (2)
after he missed that deadline, he thought the court would
reject any petition he filed until recently, when another
inmate encouraged him to file.
for Schmidt, these arguments are not sufficient to invoke the
extraordinary remedy of equitable tolling. Even if the court
assumes that the prison lockdown prevented Schmidt from
filing on the April 21, 2012, deadline, Schmidt has provided
no good explanation for his failure to act diligently and
file his petition immediately after the prison lockdown
ended. Although Schmidt may have believed that it was too
late, Schmidt should have attempted to take advantage of the
doctrine of equitable tolling at the time. Now, three years
later, it is too late. The court is sympathetic to
Schmidt's situation and understands that it can be
difficult to understand the filing requirements and
deadlines, but his lack of familiarity with the law is not a
circumstance that justifies equitable tolling. Taylor v.
Michael, 724 F.3d 806, 811 (7th Cir. 2013). Here,
Schmidt has shown no basis for tolling the one-year habeas
deadline. Because he did not present his habeas petition
within one year after his petition became final, it is
time-barred under § 2244(d)(1)(A).
only matter remaining for discussion is whether to issue a
certificate of appealability pursuant to Rule 11(a) of the
Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. A court may issue a
certificate of appealability only if the applicant makes a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). The standard for making a
“substantial showing” is whether
“reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that
matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in
a different manner or that the issues presented were adequate
to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Slack
v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted). If a district court has rejected a
petitioner's constitutional claims on the merits, then
“the showing required to satisfy § 2253(c) is
straightforward: the petitioner must demonstrate that
reasonable jurists would find the district court's
assessment of the constitutional claims debatable or
wrong.” Id. If a district court dismissed a
habeas petition based on procedural grounds without reaching
the underlying constitutional claims, then a certificate of
appealability “should issue when the prisoner shows, at
least, that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether
the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a
constitutional right and that jurists of reason would find it
debatable whether the district court was correct in its
procedural ruling.” Id. Each showing is a
threshold inquiry; thus, the court need address only one
component if that particular showing will resolve the issue.
Id. at 485.
petition should not proceed further. No. reasonable jurist
would disagree that Schmidt's petition is untimely and
that he has failed to show that equitable tolling should
apply. Therefore, Schmidt is not entitled to a certificate of
federal habeas corpus petition filed by petitioner Harry
Schmidt is DENIED and this case is DISMISSED with prejudice.
certificate of appealability is DENIED. If petitioner wishes
he may seek a certificate from the court of ...