United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Christina L. Thomas
Warden, N.H. State Prison for Women
Christina L. Thomas, pro se
P. Velardi, Esq.
Elizabeth C. Woodcock, Esq.
A. DiClerico, Jr., United States District Judge
L. Thomas, proceeding pro se, seeks habeas corpus relief
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 from her state court
conviction. The Warden moves to dismiss Thomas's petition
on the grounds that the petition is untimely and that
equitable tolling does not apply. Thomas opposes dismissal.
convicted Thomas in state court of first degree assault for
knowingly causing serious bodily injury to a person under 13
years of age, in violation of N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann.
(“RSA”) 631:1, I(d). The state court sentenced
her to a minimum of ten years and a maximum of thirty
years' imprisonment. Thomas appealed her conviction,
which the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed on February
23, 2016. State v. Thomas, 168 N.H. 589 (2016).
Thomas did not petition the United States Supreme Court for a
writ of certiorari. The time to petition for a writ of
certiorari expired on May 23, 2016.
28, 2016, Thomas signed a motion for a new trial, which was
filed in superior court. On October 13, 2016, the superior
court dismissed Thomas's motion without prejudice for
failure to comply with Stafford, Cheshire, and Belknap County
Rule of Criminal Procedure 15(b)(5), which required a motion
grounded on facts not apparent from the record to be verified
by affidavit. Thomas filed a “Verification of Defendant
Thomas' Motion for a New Trial” on November 3,
2016, which brought her motion into compliance with Rule
15(b)(5). Doc. 23-1 at 8.
superior court denied the motion for a new trial on its
merits on February 22, 2017. Thomas signed a notice of appeal
on March 18, 2017, which was filed in the superior court on
March 22, 2017. Thomas, however, did not file a notice of
appeal with the New Hampshire Supreme Court, as required by
its rules. See Doc. 25-5; N.H. Sup. Ct. R. 5(1)
(“[T]he party appealing shall . . . unless differently
provided by law . . . simultaneously file the original and 8
copies of the notice of appeal and of the attachments
mentioned on the applicable notice of appeal form, in the
office of the clerk of this court . . . .”). The time
for filing an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court
expired on March 24, 2017. See N.H. Sup. Ct. R.
7(1)(B); Griffin v. Warden, N.H. State Prison for
Men, 2018 WL 4017600, at *1 n.1 (D.N.H. Aug. 22, 2018).
Thomas signed her § 2254 petition on February 16, 2018,
and it was filed in this court on February 20, 2018.
Warden argues that the court must dismiss Thomas's §
2254 petition because it is untimely. The Anti-Terrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) created a
one-year limitations period for petitions for habeas corpus
relief under § 2254. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The
limitations period begins running from the time that the
state judgment becomes final, which is at the conclusion of a
direct appeal or the expiration of time for seeking a direct
appeal. Id. § 2244(d) (1) (A).
Warden contends that, considering statutory tolling, the
one-year limitations period expired on September 11,
2017.Additionally, the Warden contends that
Thomas is not entitled to equitable tolling. In her objection,
Thomas does not contest the Warden's assertion that her
petition was untimely filed, but she asserts that the court
should grant her an exception because she does not understand
the legal process.
limitations period began running on May 23, 2016, when the
time period for petitioning the Supreme Court for certiorari
expired ninety days after the New Hampshire Supreme Court
affirmed Thomas's conviction. See §
2244(d)(1); Blue v. Medeiros,913 F.3d 1, 3-4 (1st
Cir. 2019) (concluding that “[n]inety days” after
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court summarily denied
direct review of the petitioner's conviction and
sentence, “Petitioner's convictions became final;
that is the moment the AEDPA statute of limitations clock
began to tick”). The limitations period was tolled
between November 3, 2016, and March 24, 2017, while
Thomas's motion for a new trial was
pending.See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2)
(“The time during which a properly filed application
for State post-conviction or other collateral review with
respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall
not be counted toward any period of limitation under this
subsection.”); Drew v. MacEachern, 620 F.3d
16, 20 (1st Cir. 2010); Currie v. Matesanz, 281 ...