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Settles v. Turner

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio

June 18, 2019

CRAIG SETTLES, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN NEIL TURNER, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER [RESOLVING DOC. 5]

          JAMES S. GWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In 1997, an Ohio jury convicted then-fourteen-year-old Petitioner Craig Settles of murder.[1] The trial court subsequently issued an indeterminate sentence of eighteen years to life with the possibility of parole.[2] Settles appealed, [3] the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed, [4] and Settles did not seek Ohio Supreme Court review.[5]

         Settles now petitions the Court for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent Warden Turner moves to dismiss, arguing that Settles' petition is untimely.[6]Magistrate Judge Knepp issued a report and recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the Court dismiss Settles' petition, [7] to which Settles objects.[8]

         For the following reasons, the Court OVERRULES Petitioner's objections, ADOPTS the R&R, and DISMISSES Settles' petition.

         Discussion

         Because Settles objected to the R&R, the Court reviews it de novo.[9] The question in this case is timeliness. A habeas petitioner must file within one year of the latest of:

(i) his conviction becoming final,
(ii) the Supreme Court recognizing a new relevant constitutional right,
(iii) an unlawful state impediment to filing being removed, or
(iv) when new material facts could reasonably have been discovered.[10]

         Only the first two options are relevant here.

         A conviction becomes final when the defendant's direct review opportunities expire.[11] Settles appealed to the Ohio Court of Appeals, who issued its decision on September 30, 1998.[12] From then, Settles had forty-five days to seek Ohio Supreme Court review, [13] which Settles never did. Thus, his conviction became final on November 14, 1998, making Settles' June 2018 petition nearly twenty years late under the first deadline.

         Settles responds that his case involves a constitutional right newly recognized by the Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama, [14] and made retroactive by Montgomery v. Louisiana.[15] Miller outlawed mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles. Settles argues that his one-year clock runs from Montgomery's decision date-January 25, 2016.

         He is wrong for two reasons. First, Miller only invalidated mandatory juvenile sentences to life without parole. Although Settles was a juvenile, his discretionary sentence of eighteen years to life with parole falls outside Miller's holding.[16] Second, ...


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