UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Thomas Lagene FRANKLIN, Defendant-Appellant.
Decided: February 15, 2019
Before DIAZ and HARRIS, Circuit Judges, and SHEDD, Senior Circuit Judge.
Thomas Lagene Franklin, Appellant Pro Se.
Thomas Lagene Franklin seeks to appeal the district court's order dismissing with prejudice Franklin's authorized, successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (2012) motion in which Franklin asserted a Johnson 1 challenge to his 180-month armed career criminal sentence. The district court concluded that the Johnson claim was procedurally defaulted and that Franklin did not establish actual prejudice to excuse the default.2 Franklin, who now proceeds pro se, timely noted an appeal.
The district court's order is not appealable unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of appealability. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(B) (2012). A certificate of appealability will not issue absent “a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2) (2012). When the district court denies relief on the merits, a prisoner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that reasonable jurists would find that the district court's assessment of the constitutional claims is debatable or wrong. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484, 120 S.Ct. 1595, 146 L.Ed.2d 542 (2000); see Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336-38, 123 S.Ct. 1029, 154 L.Ed.2d 931 (2003). When the district court denies relief on procedural grounds, the prisoner must demonstrate both that the dispositive procedural ruling is debatable, and that the motion states a debatable claim of the denial of a constitutional right. Slack, 529 U.S. at 484-85, 120 S.Ct. 1595.
We have independently reviewed the record and conclude that Franklin has not made the requisite showing. Specifically, Franklin's failure to contest in his informal brief the district court's dispositive procedural rationale forecloses any challenge to that ruling. See 4th Cir. R. 34(b); Jackson v. Lightsey, 775 F.3d 170, 177 (4th Cir. 2014) (“The informal brief is an important document; under Fourth Circuit rules, our review is limited to issues preserved in that brief.”). Accordingly, we deny a certificate of appealability and dismiss this appeal. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
1. Johnson v. United States, ––– U.S. ––––, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 192 L.Ed.2d 569 (2015).
2. “Where a defendant has procedurally defaulted a claim by failing to raise it on direct review, the claim may be raised in habeas only if the defendant can first demonstrate either ‘cause’ and actual ‘prejudice,’ or that he is ‘actually innocent.’ ” Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 622, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998) (citations omitted). Here, the district court concluded that Franklin established “cause.”
Dismissed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
Was this helpful?
Response sent, thank you
Welcome to FindLaw's Cases & Codes
A free source of state and federal court opinions, state laws, and the United States Code. For more information about the legal concepts addressed by these cases and statutes visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law.