The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENNIS CAVANAUGH, District Judge
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Gregory
Ravenell's petition for habeas corpus relief under
28 U.S.C. § 2254. For reasons discussed below, the petition for habeas corpus
relief will be dismissed as time-barred, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2244 (d). I. BACKGROUND
Petitioner, Gregory Ravenell ("Ravenell"), filed a petition for
habeas corpus relief on or about September 15, 2003.*fn1 On
August 13, 2004,*fn2 the Court directed respondents to
answer the petition, and the respondents filed an answer, with
affirmative defenses, and pertinent part of the state court
record. The respondents answered the petition on October 18,
2004, raising an affirmative defense that the petition is
time-barred pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244 (d). Ravenell filed a
brief in reply on November 12, 2004.
The following facts are taken from the petition and traverse,
the respondents' answer, and the state court record.
Ravenell pled guilty to felony murder on November 5, 1992, but
later filed a motion to withdraw his plea and to be relieved of assigned counsel from the Public Defender's Office. On
December 18, 1992, the Honorable Patricia Costello, J.S.C. denied
Ravenell's requests and sentenced him to a thirty year prison
term without parole.
Ravenell filed a notice of appeal on March 1, 1993. On June 24,
1993, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the denial of
petitioner's motion to withdraw his guilty plea as well as the
sentence imposed. Ravenell filed a petition for certification
with the Supreme Court of New Jersey, which was dismissed for
lack of prosecution on November 3, 1993. On November 11, 1993,
Ravenell filed a motion for reconsideration of the petition for
certification, which was again dismissed by the Supreme Court of
New Jersey for lack of prosecution on May 26, 1994.
On June 16, 1994, Ravenell filed a motion for post-conviction
relief ("PCR") with the state court. He was assigned counsel and
received a seven-day evidentiary hearing before the Honorable
Severiano Lisboa, III, J.S.C. By letter opinion dated May 30,
1996, the state PCR court denied Ravenell's PCR petition on the
merits.*fn3 (Ra 200-228).*fn4 Ravenell's appointed
counsel filed a notice of appeal, and the Appellate Division
affirmed the PCR denial on February 16, 1999. The N.J. Supreme Court denied
certification on April 29, 1999.
Ravenell filed a second state PCR petition on January 14, 2000.
The Honorable Lawrence P. DeBello, J.S.C. denied relief, pursuant
to New Jersey Court Rule 3:22-5, because the same issues raised
in the second PCR petition had been adjudicated on the merits on
direct appeal. (Ra 419-424). On February 28, 2001, Ravenell
appealed from denial of his second PCR petition. The Appellate
Division affirmed the trial court's denial of Ravenell's second
PCR petition, on May 14, 2002, finding the petition barred under
New Jersey Court Rules 3:22-5 and 3:22-12. (Ra 505-506). The New
Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on September 23, 2002.
Ravenell filed this federal habeas petition on September 15,
A pro se pleading is held to less stringent standards than more
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972). A pro se habeas petition and any supporting submissions
must be construed liberally and with a measure of tolerance.
See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F. 3d 116, 118 (3d Cir. 1998); Lewis
v. Attorney General, 878 F.2d 714, 721-22 (3d Cir. 1989);
United States v. Brierley, 414 F.ed 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969), cert. denied,
399 U.S. 912 (1970).
III. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ANALYSIS
The limitation period for a § 2254 habeas petition is set forth
in 28 U.S.C. § 2244 (d), which provides in pertinent part:
(1) A 1-year period of limitations shall apply to an
application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person
in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court.
The limitation period shall run from the latest of
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by
the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of
the time for seeking such review; . . .
(2) The time during which a properly filed
application for State post-conviction or other
collateral review with respect to the pertinent
judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted
toward any period of limitation under this section.
Section 2244 (d) became effective on April 24, 1996 when the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA')
Was signed into law. See Burns v. Morton, 134 F.3d 109, 111 (3d
Cir. 1998); Duarte v. Herschberger, 947 F.Supp. 146, 147
(D.N.J. 1996). The Third circuit has ruled that state prisoners
whose convictions became final before the April 24, 1996
enactment of AEDPA are permitted one year, until April 23, 1997,
in which to file a federal habeas petition under § 2254. See
Burns, 134 F.3d at 111. See also Lindh v. Murphy,
521 U.S. 320, 326-27 (1997) ("[t]he statute reveals Congress' intent to
apply the amendments to chapter 153 only to such cases as were
filed after the statute's enactment"). Thus, pursuant to § 2244 (d), evaluation of the timeliness of a
§ 2254 petition requires a determination of, first, when the
pertinent judgment became "final," and, second, the period of
time during which an application for state post-conviction relief
was "properly filed" and "pending."
A state-court criminal judgment becomes "final" within the
meaning of § 2244 (d) (1) by the conclusion of direct review or
by the expiration of time for seeking such review, including the
90-day period for filing a petition for writ of certiorari in the
United States Supreme Court. see Swartz v. Meyers,
204 F.3d 417, 419 (3d ...