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Bey v. State

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 8, 2017

ALAMIN BEY, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Respondent.

          Alamin Bey Petitioner Pro Se

          Maura Murphy Sullivan Counsel for Respondent

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Petitioner Alamin Bey files this Amended Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his 2003 New Jersey state court conviction.[1] (ECF No. 5.) For the reasons discussed below, Petitioner will be ordered to show cause why the Amended Petition should not be dismissed as time-barred.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 13, 2003, Petitioner entered a guilty plea to a charge of third degree endangering the welfare of a child, in violation of N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4(a). (Am. Pet., Ex. B. Judgment of Conviction.) He was sentenced to three years of probation, community service, Megan's Law requirements and community supervision for life. (Id.) Petitioner did not file a direct appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief. (Am. Pet. ¶¶ 8, 10.)

         On September 12, 2016, Petitioner filed his initial Petition. (ECF No. 1.) In response to an Order from this Court, Petitioner thereafter filed an Amended Petition which complies with all local rules. (ECF No. 5.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         In 1996, Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), which provides that “[a] 1-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Relevant for purposes of this case, the limitations period begins to run when the judgment becomes “final.”[2] 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 Supreme Court of the United States. See Swartz v. Meyers, 204 F.3d 417, 419 (3d Cir. 2000); Morris v. Horn, 187 F.3d 333, 337 n. 1 (3d Cir. 1999); U.S. Sup.Ct. R. 13; see also 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) (the 1-year period begins on “the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review”).

         Where applicable, the 1-year limitation period is tolled during the time that a valid state post-conviction review is pending. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(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 subsection.”). An application for state post-conviction relief is considered “pending” within the meaning of § 2244(d)(2), and the limitations period is statutorily tolled, from the time it is “properly filed, ” during the period between a lower state court's decision and the filing of a notice of appeal to a higher court, Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214 (2002), and through the time in which an appeal could be filed, even if the appeal is never filed. Swartz, 204 F.3d at 420-24. This tolling does not include any petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court for review of a denial of post-conviction relief. Jenkins v. Superintendent of Laurel Highlands, 705 F.3d 80, 85 n. 5 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 332 (2007)).

         A petitioner may be able to overcome the time bar if he can show a basis for equitable tolling. The Supreme Court has stated that, “[g]enerally, a litigant seeking equitable tolling [of the AEDPA statute of limitations] bears the burden of establishing two elements: (1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way.” Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005); see also Jenkins, 705 F.3d at 89. “There are no bright lines in determining whether equitable tolling is warranted in a given case.” See Pabon v. Mahanoy, 654 F.3d 385, 399 (3d Cir. 2011). The Third Circuit has explained that “equitable tolling is appropriate when principles of equity would make rigid application of a limitation period unfair, but that a court should be sparing in its use of the doctrine.” Ross v. Varano, 712 F.3d 784 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Pabon, 654 F.3d at 399; Jones v. Morton, 195 F.3d 153, 159 (3d Cir. 1999)).

         With respect to the diligence that is necessary for equitable tolling, the Third Circuit has stated that:

The diligence required for equitable tolling purposes is reasonable diligence, not maximum, extreme, or exceptional diligence. Holland, 130 S.Ct. at 2565. “This obligation does not pertain solely to the filing of the federal habeas petition, rather it is an obligation that exists during the period appellant is exhausting state court remedies as well.” LaCava v. Kyler, 398 F.3d 271, 277 (3d Cir. 2005).... The fact that a petitioner is proceeding pro se does not insulate him from the “reasonable diligence” inquiry and his lack of legal knowledge or legal training does not alone justify equitable tolling. See Brown v. Shannon, 322 F.3d 768, 774 (3d Cir. 2003).

Ross, 712 F.3d 784. Extraordinary circumstances may be found where: (1) the petitioner has been actively misled; (2) the petitioner has in some extraordinary way been prevented from asserting his rights; or (3) where the petitioner has timely asserted his rights in the wrong forum. See Fahy v. Horn, 240 F.3d 239, 244 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Jones, 195 F.3d at 159). However, “[i]n non-capital cases, attorney error, miscalculation, inadequate research, or other mistakes have not been found to ...


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