Freeman v. Wainwright, No. 18-3913 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Freeman pleaded guilty to felony murder in 2001. An Ohio trial court sentenced Freeman to 15 years to life imprisonment, followed by post-release control for the maximum period allowable. Freeman failed to appeal. After four unsuccessful motions to withdraw his guilty plea, Freeman collaterally moved in state court to vacate his conviction and sentence in 2015. He argued the sentencing court’s imposition of post-release control was “contrary to law” and that his felony murder conviction was improper because there was no evidence he committed an underlying violent felony. The state appeals court granted Freeman relief in part, agreeing that Ohio law does not provide for post-release control for felony murder and stating that “a sentencing entry that incorrectly imposes postrelease control does not render the entire sentence void. Only that portion of the judgment that improperly imposes postrelease control is void.” On remand, in 2017, the trial court “vacated and replaced, nunc pro tunc” the journal entry from Freeman’s original sentencing, leaving intact its original sentencing journal entry except for the single sentence discussing post-release control. Freeman then filed a 28 U.S.C 2254 petition, challenging his conviction. The district court dismissed Freeman’s petition as time-barred. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. A limited resentencing that results in a better-than-before sentence does not constitute a new “judgment” under 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1)(A), which imposes a one-year limitations period for habeas petitions.