As with 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the AEDPA imposed a one-year statute of limitations on petitions brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244 (Supp. 1997). For § 2254 petitions, the limitation period runs from the latest of four dates, including, most commonly, "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Thus, insofar as direct review constitutes non-collateral review, cf. Black's Law Dictionary 238 (5th ed. abr. 1983) (defining "direct" as the "opposite of . . . collateral"), the § 2254 statute of limitations runs from the exhaustion or procedural default of state supreme court review. The relative clarity under § 2254 of the date of judgment finality sharply contrasts the ambiguous language of the § 2255 time limit. See Bazemore, 929 F. Supp. at 1569. Compare 28 U.S.C. § 2255, with 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). This contrast alone warrants individually tailored definitions of final judgment for purposes of the § 2254 and § 2255 statutes of limitations.
In addition to divergent statutory language, another fundamental deviation between § 2254 and § 2255 motions supports different definitions of judgment finality; § 2254 motions originate in state courts, while § 2255 motions originate in federal courts. Section 2254 provides for a federal civil action deriving from a state criminal action. See Bazemore, 929 F. Supp. at 1568-69 & n.1 (citing Liebman & Hertz, 2 Fed. Habeas Corpus Prac. & Proc. § 41.2a at 1183; 28 U.S.C. § 2255, R. 1 (1976 Advisory Committee Notes)). Section 2254, therefore, requires a prisoner to exhaust state remedies before a federal district court will address the merits of the petitioner's motion. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(b)(1), (c) (1997); Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 515-20, 71 L. Ed. 2d 379, 102 S. Ct. 1198 (1982); Carter v. Vaughn, 62 F.3d 591, 594 (3d Cir. 1995). This requirement promotes comity between the federal and state systems by protecting the state court's role as the initial judge of alleged violations of federal law. See Rose, 455 U.S. at 518; Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275, 30 L. Ed. 2d 438, 92 S. Ct. 509 (1971). The issue of comity, however, does not figure in § 2255 claims; § 2255 claims arise as motions in already existing federal criminal actions. See Bazemore, 929 F. Supp. at 1568-69 & n.1. Thus, defining final judgment for purposes of § 2255 as the appeals court's decision, in contrast to the definition in the § 2254 context, proves appropriate.
For the preceding reasons, the Court holds that for purposes of motions made pursuant to § 2255, the date of the appeals court's decision constitutes the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final. The one-year statute of limitations begins to run from the date of the appeals court's decision.
In the case at issue, the Third Circuit affirmed Kapral's conviction on February 6, 1996, and Kapral did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. Thus, the statute of limitations expired on February 6, 1997, one year after the appeals court's decision. Because Kapral filed his § 2255 motion with this Court on April 29, 1997, his motion is barred by the statute of limitations.
Although the provisions of the § 2255 statute of limitations bar Kapral's motion, the Court recognizes that application of a new statute of limitations to claims accrued before, but filed after, its effective date is retroactive in nature. See Duarte, 947 F. Supp. at 148-49. Thus, in the interest of fairness and justice, this Court previously provided a one-year grace period in the context of § 2254 claims; this § 2254 grace period runs from the enactment of the shortened limitations period. See id. at 149. The Court discerns no reason not to apply the one-year grace period to motions filed under § 2255. Accordingly, under the one-year grace period, Kapral was entitled to file a § 2255 motion until April 24, 1997. Again, because Kapral filed his motion on April 29, 1997, his motion is barred by the statute of limitations.
For the reasons expressed above, the Court concludes that the one-year statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 begins to run on the later of (1) the date of the appeals court's decision and (2) the date the AEDPA became effective, i.e., April 24, 1996. Because Kapral filed his present motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on April 29, 1997, the Court concludes that his motion is barred by the statute of limitations.
Thus, the Court will dismiss Kapral's motion with prejudice.
An appropriate Order is attached.
Dated: July 28, 1997
ALFRED M. WOLIN, U.S.D.J.
In accordance with the Court's Opinion filed herewith,
It is on the 28th day of July, 1997
ORDERED that Kapral's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct the Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is dismissed with prejudice.
ALFRED M. WOLIN, U.S.D.J.