denied, 498 U.S. 830, 112 L. Ed. 2d 62, 111 S. Ct. 90 (1990).
The Act established a new one-year statute of limitations within which a habeas case must be filed.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Here, Duarte filed for habeas relief nearly ten years after the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification, but only thirteen days after the AEDPA was signed into law.
As a threshold issue, therefore, the Court must first determine the applicability of the new one-year statute of limitations to pending non-capital habeas cases. This issue is one of first impression in this district.
The Supreme Court has held that in the absence of clear congressional intent to the contrary, a presumption against retroactive legislation should apply. Landgraf v. USI Film Prod., 511 U.S. 244, 280, 128 L. Ed. 2d 229, 114 S. Ct. 1483 (1994); see also Kaiser Aluminum & Chem. Corp. v. Bonjorno, 494 U.S. 827, 842-44, 855-56, 108 L. Ed. 2d 842, 110 S. Ct. 1570 (1990) (Scalia, J., concurring). This presumption implicates basic notions of justice and fairness which are deeply rooted in our nation's jurisprudence. Landgraf, 511 U.S. at 265 (citing Kaiser, 494 U.S. at 842-46 (Scalia, J., concurring)); see also General Motors Corp. v. Romein, 503 U.S. 181, 191, 117 L. Ed. 2d 328, 112 S. Ct. 1105.
Retroactive legislation may act to "deprive citizens of legitimate expectations and upset settled transactions." Romein, 503 U.S. at 191. Additionally, retroactive legislation may deny individuals of fair notice and the opportunity to adjust their conduct accordingly. Landgraf, 511 U.S. at 265. Requiring Congress to express clear intent to apply legislation retroactively "ensure[s] that Congress itself has determined that the benefits of retroactivity outweigh the potential for disruption or unfairness." Id. at 268.
Along with the general presumption against retroactive legislation, the Supreme Court has also recognized that the Constitution may require states to provide individuals a "reasonable time" to file their claims where such claims would be barred by a new limitations period. Block v. North Dakota ex rel. Bd. of Univ. and Sch. Lands, 461 U.S. 273, 286 n.23, 75 L. Ed. 2d 840, 103 S. Ct. 1811 (1983) (citing Texaco, Inc. v. Short, 454 U.S. 516, 527 n.21, 70 L. Ed. 2d 738, 102 S. Ct. 781 (1982)). The Court in Short explained that a limitations period which bars existing claims is "'an unlawful attempt to extinguish rights arbitrarily, whatever might be the purport of its provisions.'" 454 U.S. at 527 n.21 (quoting Wilson v. Iseminger, 185 U.S. 55, 62-63, 46 L. Ed. 804, 22 S. Ct. 573 (1902)).
Other circuits have also recognized that the application of a shortened limitations period to claims accrued before, but filed after, the effective date of the shortened period may implicate retroactivity concerns and be manifestly unfair. See Vernon v. Cassadaga Valley Cent. Sch. Dist., 49 F.3d 886, 891-92 (2d Cir. 1995) (Cabranes, C.J., concurring); Hanner v. State of Mississippi, 833 F.2d 55, 57-58 (5th Cir. 1987) (concluding that a shortened limitation period that bars pre-accrued claims must provide plaintiffs with a "reasonable time" in which to file their claims); Usher v. City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 559-61 (9th Cir. 1987) (holding that shortened limitations periods that offer no opportunity to adjust conduct accordingly significantly prejudice plaintiffs).
In the case at bar, Congress has not stated whether the new limitations period should apply to pending non-capital habeas cases.
In the absence of a clear statement from Congress, the Court concludes that the Landgraf presumption controls and the new one-year statute of limitations applies only prospectively to pending non-capital habeas cases.
The issue then becomes what constitutes a "reasonable time" or grace period in the habeas context. More specifically, within what period after the effective date of the Act must a petitioner file his pending non-capital habeas case.
Where a shortened limitations period would bar pre-accrued claims, other circuits have provided claimants the shorter of: (1) the pre-shortened limitation period, commencing at the time the action accrued; or (2) the shortened limitation period, commencing from the date the statute became effective. See Kelly v. Burlington Northern R.R., 896 F.2d 1194, 1199 (9th Cir. 1990) (labor context); Hanner, 833 F.2d at 58 (section 1983 context); Anton v. Lehpamer, 787 F.2d 1141, 1146 (7th Cir. 1986) (section 1983 context); Usher, 828 F.2d at 561 (section 1983 context). Under this method, petitioners who are not time-barred under the prior limitations period, receive a grace period equal to the new limitations period.
The above method is appropriate in the habeas corpus context. Accord Flowers v. Hanks, 941 F. Supp. 765, 1996 WL 534791, *5 (N.D. Ind. 1996). This method strikes an appropriate balance between concerns of fairness and the desire to facilitate congressional intent. Application of the shortened limitations period retroactively would deny habeas petitioners of notice and the opportunity to modify their conduct accordingly. The Court, therefore, concludes that Duarte is entitled to a one-year grace period in which to file his claim. As noted before, Duarte filed his claim on May 7, 1996, well before the April 24, 1997 deadline. Thus, his action is not time-barred.
2. Exhaustion of State Remedies
The Court next considers whether Duarte has exhausted his state remedies. Generally, federal courts refuse to hear habeas cases where any of the petitioner's claims were not litigated and appealed at the state court level. The amended sections 2254(b) and (c) provide in relevant part:
(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that--
(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State; or