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Woods v. Gilmore

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 22, 2017

SHAMONE WOODS, Petitioner,
v.
ROBERT GILMORE Superintendent of The State Correctional Institution at SCI Greene, Respondent.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jan E. DuBois Judge.

         AND NOW, this 22nd day of June, 2017, upon consideration of Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Document No. 5, filed March 28, 2017), Motion for Discovery (Document No. 6, filed March 28, 2017), Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Document No. 7, filed March 28, 2017), all of which were filed by pro se petitioner, Shamone Woods, the record in this case, the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter dated May 10, 2017, and pro se petitioner's Objections to Report and Recommendation (Document No. 13, filed June 9, 2017), IT IS ORDERED as follows:

         1. The Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter dated May 10, 2017, is APPROVED and ADOPTED;

         2. Motion for Discovery filed by pro se petitioner is DENIED for the reasons set forth in the Report and Recommendation;

         3. Motion for Appointment of Counsel filed by pro se petitioner is DENIED for the reasons set forth in the Report and Recommendation;

         4. Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by pro se petitioner, Shamone Woods, is DISMISSED as untimely filed; and, 5. Objections to Report and Recommendation filed by pro se petitioner are OVERRULED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a certificate of appealability will not issue because reasonable jurists would not debate the propriety of this Court's procedural ruling with respect to the Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000).

         The decision of the Court is based on the following:

         The facts of the case are set forth in the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter dated May 10, 2017, which this Court has approved and adopted, and will not be repeated in this Order. The Court writes at this time only to explain its ruling on pro se petitioner's Objections to Report and Recommendation.

         Pro se petitioner raises two objections to the Report and Recommendation. First, he claims that extraordinary circumstances warrant application of equitable tolling and that his pro se Habeas Corpus Petition should not have been dismissed as untimely filed. In making this argument pro se petitioner states that he is illiterate and ignorant of the law, which warrants equitable tolling. Second, pro se petitioner argues that the United States Magistrate Judge erred in denying his Motion for Appointment of Counsel.

         Illiteracy and Ignorance of the Law

         Illiteracy or ignorance of the law are not per se reasons for justifying equitable tolling. See, e.g., Ross v. Varano, 712 F.3d 784, 800 (a petitioner's “lack of legal knowledge or legal training does not alone justify equitable tolling”). On this issue the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has ruled that “lack of education or legal knowledge . . . are not extraordinary circumstances that warrant equitable tolling, ” Mendez v. Superintendent SCI-Huntingdon, Civil No. 13-1137, 2013 WL 3894865, at *3 (M.D. Pa. July 26, 2013), and that “[l]ack of education and illiteracy . . . do not favor equitable tolling, ” King v. Tritt, No. 13-cv-2045, 2014 WL 2865090, at *3 (M.D. Pa. June 24, 2014) (citing Mendez). Other courts have stated that “illiteracy is insufficient to toll the statute of limitations.” Cline v. Schnurr, 652 Fed. App'x 708, 711 (10th Cir. 2016) (non-precedential) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

         While illiteracy and ignorance of the law are certainly obstacles in the path of a petitioner or other person seeking relief, this Court concludes that they are insufficient, without more, to excuse a petitioner's failure to timely file a habeas corpus petition during the entire statutory period. Pro se petitioner has failed to assert anything other than his claimed illiteracy and ignorance of the law in explaining his failure to timely file his habeas corpus petitioner. Thus, relief on this ground is denied.

         Appointment ...


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