June 16, 2019

Tenth Circuit: Prisoner’s Application for Habeas Corpus Relief Denied Due to Untimeliness and Failure to Exhaust State Court Remedies

The Tenth Circuit issued its opinion in Prendergast v. Clements on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Brian Prendergast was convicted of securities fraud. He appealed his conviction and was sentenced to ten years of probation. In 2003, his conviction was affirmed on appeal. Prendergast violated the terms of his probation and was accordingly resentenced in 2009. His resentencing was affirmed on appeal in April 2011. In December 2011, Prendergast filed in federal district court an application for federal habeas relief. His application presented five claims. Two attacked the constitutionality of his resentencing. The other three attacked the basis of his original conviction. The district court dismissed the two claims related to the resentencing for failure to exhaust state-court remedies. The court dismissed as untimely the three claims related to the original conviction.

The Tenth Circuit reviewed these two bases for dismissal.

Exhaustion of State Court Remedies. For a federal court to consider a federal constitutional claim in an application for habeas, the claim must be “fairly presented to the state courts” in order to give state courts the “opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of its prisoners’ federal rights.” Since there was nothing in Prendergast’s briefing to alert the state court about a federal constitutional claim, the district court correctly concluded Prendergast did not exhaust state-court remedies as to either claim.

Untimeliness. At the district court level, Prendergast presented three claims challenging the constitutionality of his 2003 conviction. Applying the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the district court concluded all three of these claims were time barred. Because AEDPA sets a one-year limitations period for filing a COA application, and because Prendergast did not raise claims attacking the original conviction until over seven years later, these claims clearly exceeded the one-year limitations period for filing a COA application.

Accordingly, Petitioner’s application for a certificate of appealability was DENIED, the matter was DISMISSED, and his motion to proceed in forma pauperis was DENIED.

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