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Dennis Pryor v. Meg Yatauro

March 27, 2012

DENNIS PRYOR, PETITIONER,
v.
MEG YATAURO, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, District Judge:

Dennis Pryor filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) challenging a judgment of conviction entered in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Salem County, on May 3, 1984. For the reasons expressed below, and because the Petition, as drafted and read in light of the state court decisions which are available electronically, shows that the claims are time barred, this Court will dismiss the Petition as untimely and deny a certificate of appealability.

However, because this Court cannot rule out the possibility that Petitioner might have valid grounds for statutory and/or equitable tolling of the instant Petition (which are not set forth in Petitioner's submissions), and he might wish to raise these grounds to show timeliness of his Petition, this Court will grant Petitioner 30 days to file a written statement which sets forth detailed tolling arguments not considered in this Opinion, or otherwise presents an argument that the Petition is not untimely. This Court will administratively terminate the case at this time for statistical purposes, but will retain jurisdiction over the Petition during this 30-day period and reopen the file to consider Petitioner's arguments in the event that he raises them within this period.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction entered in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Salem County, on May 3, 1984, after a jury found him guilty of second-degree burglary, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and first-degree aggravated sexual assault. The Law Division imposed an aggregate sentence of life imprisonment with 25 years of parole ineligibility. See State v. Pryor, 2010 WL 5173811 *1 (N.J. Super., App. Div., Dec. 22, 2010). Petitioner appealed, and on November 19, 1986, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, affirmed the conviction and the terms of the sentences, except directed the trial court to re-sentence Petitioner to the ADTC, pending the special classification committee determining that he could no longer benefit from sex offender treatment, in which case, he should be returned to state prison. Id. The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on February 6, 1987. State v. Pryor, 107 N.J. 96 (1987) (table).

In September 1990, Pryor filed a pro se PCR petition challenging his extended term sentence. See Pryor, 2010 WL 5173811 at *1. The Law Division denied relief, and on May 25, 1993, the Appellate Division affirmed. Id. The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on September 10, 1993. See State v. Pryor, 134 N.J. 483 (1993) (table).

On September 9, 2008, Pryor filed a second pro se PCR, seeking again to vacate the extended term. See Pryor, 2010 WL 5173811 at *1. By order filed June 24, 2009, the Law Division denied relief without an evidentiary hearing. Id. Pryor appealed, and on December 22, 2010, the Appellate Division affirmed. Id. at *2.

Petitioner executed the § 2254 Petition, which is presently before this Court, on March 1, 2012. The Clerk accepted it for filing on March 2, 2012. The Petition raises four grounds:

Ground One: SIXTH AMENDMENT (RIGHT TO EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.)

Supporting Facts: Ineffective assistance of Counsel, both trial and appellate. Petitioner established a prima facie case when he proved that the judge considered cases from a too remote period, under and old law, to be used during trial; counsel failed to object to using persistent offender statute when the alleged aberrant behavior was due to what is now considered a mental abnormality, and cannot be held against him in a court of law.

Ground Two: SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS, (14TH AMENDMENT, U.S. CONSTITUTION); CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, (8th AMENDMENT, U.S. CONSTITUTION)

Supporting Facts: Defendant received an illegal sentence contrary to both the prior Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice, N.J.S.A. 2A, and the Code of Criminal Justice, passed by the State Legislature in 1979, known as N.J.S.A. 2C. The sentence does not conform to either code due to the fact that factors were used to determine a sentence that were already inherent in the charging of the crime itself, thereby double-counting many of the factors.

Ground Three: PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS: (14th AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION) Supporting Facts: Defendant/Petitioner was not given an evidentiary hearing after establishing a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of counsel on both the parts of trial counsel and appellate counsel. It is established that an attorney must fully investigate any claims a defendant makes in order to protect his rights against constitutional violations, and effective counsel should conduct a full ...


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