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Wright v. State

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 3, 2018

DIRON CHARLES WRIGHT, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al., Respondents.

          GURBIR S. GREWAL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY LILA BAGWELL LEONARD, DAG Office of the Attorney General Division of Criminal Justice Attorneys for Respondent State of New Jersey

          CHARLES M. MORIARTY, ESQ. Charles Moriarty, LLC Attorneys for Petitioner, Diron Charles Wright

          OPINION

          PETER G. SHERIDAN U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Respondent State of New Jersey's motion to dismiss Diron Charles Wright's petition for writ of habeas corpus as untimely. (ECF No. 6). Petitioner opposes the motion. (ECF No. 7). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will dismiss the petition as time-barred, and no certificate of appealability will issue.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On January 31, 2006, a Monmouth County grand jury issued a superseding indictment charging Petitioner with three counts of third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:35-10(a)(1); three counts of second-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine) with intent to distribute, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:35-5(b)(2); three counts of second-degree distribution of cocaine, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:35-5(b)(2); and one count of first-degree maintaining or operating a drug production facility, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:35-4. (ECF No. 6-5). After his first trial ended in a hung jury, [1] Petitioner was convicted on all counts in his second trial. The trial court sentenced him to a total custodial term of thirty years with a fifteen-year period of parole ineligibility. (ECF No. 6-6). The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence on direct appeal. State v. Wright, No. A-3978-08 (N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. Dec. 8, 2011); (ECF No. 6-7 at 2). The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on June 8, 2012. State v. Wright, 45 A.3d 983 (N.J. 2012); (ECF No. 6-8).

         Petitioner filed a post-conviction relief ("PCR") petition in the Law Division on April 9, 2013. (ECF No. 6-9). On October 18, 2013, the PCR court dismissed all claims except for Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on trial counsel's failure to call certain witnesses at Petitioner's retrial. (ECF No. 6-11 at 7). After a three day evidentiary hearing, the PCR court granted the PCR petition on October 1, 2015. (ECF No. 6-10). The State filed a motion for clarification, and the PCR court denied the motion on November 13, 2015. (ECF No. 6-12).

         The Appellate Division granted the State's motion for leave to appeal. On August 24, 2016, the Appellate Division reversed the decision of the PCR court. State v. Wright, No. A-1781-15, 2016 WL 4446162 (N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. Aug. 24, 2016) (per curiam); (ECF No. 6-13). The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on December 5, 2016. State v. Wright, 157 A.3d 845 (Table) (N.J. 2016); (ECF No. 6-14).

         Petitioner filed his § 2254 petition on May 19, 2017. (ECF No. 1). Respondent filed the instant motion to dismiss on September 11, 2017, arguing the petition was filed after the one-year statute of limitations expired. (ECF No. 6). Petitioner argues the petition is timely, or, alternatively, that he should be given the benefit of equitable tolling. (ECF No. 7).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Petitioner's habeas petition is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). AEDPA imposes a one-year period of limitation on a petitioner seeking to challenge his state conviction and sentence through a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under § 2244(d)(1), the limitations period runs 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;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was ...

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