United States District Court, D. New Jersey
CARL W. RIDGEWAY, Petitioner,
WILLIE BONDS, et al., Respondents.
B. KUGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Carl W. Ridgeway (“Petitioner”) is a state
prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A jury
convicted Petitioner of aggravated sexual assault of a victim
less than thirteen years old and related offenses and he is
currently serving a twenty-six-year sentence. Respondents
have filed a motion to dismiss the petition as untimely. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion
to dismiss and dismiss Petitioner's habeas petition
because he filed it beyond the one-year limitations period.
November 18, 2008, a jury convicted Petitioner of two counts
of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. §
2C:14-2a(1) (penetration of a child less than thirteen) and
N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2a(2)(c) (penetration of a child by a
person standing in loco parentis); three counts of
second-degree endangering the welfare of a child for whose
care he was responsible, N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4a; one count
of second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2(c);
and one count of second-degree sexual assault by one with
supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim, §
N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-2c(3)(b). (ECF No. 17-9, at 2). On May
19, 2009, Petitioner received a sentence of among other
things, an aggregate term of twenty-six-years imprisonment
subject to an eighty-five percent term of parole
ineligibility. (ECF No. 17-7).
filed a notice of appeal with the Superior Court of New
Jersey, Appellate Division on September 14, 2009, and then
filed an amended notice on October 15, 2009. (ECF No. 17-8).
On March 9, 2011, the Appellate Division affirmed
Petitioner's conviction, but remanded the matter for
resentencing. (ECF No. 17-9). The Appellate Division found
that the trial court sentenced Petitioner consecutively,
without engaging in the requisite and separate sentencing
analysis under State v. Yarbough, 100 N.J. 627,
643-44 (1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. (1986). (ECF
No. 17-9). The New Jersey Supreme Court denied
Petitioner's petition for certification on July 14, 2011.
(ECF No. 17-10).
remand, on February 6, 2012, the trial court issued an
amended judgment of conviction, which set forth the
court's Yarbough analysis and re-sentenced
Petitioner to, among other things, an aggregate term of
twenty-six years imprisonment subject to an eighty-five
percent term of parole ineligibility. (ECF No. 17-11).
then filed a motion for post-conviction relief
(“PCR”) on April 4, 2013, and the trial court
denied that motion on September 13, 2013 (ECF Nos. 17-13,
17-14). On December 9, 2013, Petitioner filed a PCR notice of
appeal with the Appellate Division, and the Appellate
Division denied that appeal on August 17, 2015. (ECF Nos.
17-15, 17-16). Thereafter, Petitioner filed a petition for
certification to the New Jersey Supreme Court on August 19,
2015, and the New Jersey Supreme Court denied that petition
on February 17, 2016. (ECF Nos. 17-17, 17-18).
then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus on March 22,
2017. (ECF No. 1, at 16). Respondents have filed
a motion to dismiss the habeas petition as untimely. (ECF No.
17). Petitioner filed a response in opposition arguing that
the Court should equitably toll the statute of limitations
because his PCR counsel failed to file a protective petition.
(ECF No. 20).
argue that the Court should dismiss the habeas petition as
untimely. “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). That limitations period begins to
run when the criminal judgment becomes
“final.” “Final judgment in a criminal case
means sentence. The sentence is the judgment.”
Burton v. Stewart, 549 U.S. 147, 156 (2007) (citing
Berman v. United States, 302 U.S. 211, 212 (1937)).
A judgment becomes “final” within the meaning of
§ 2244(d)(1) at the conclusion of direct review or at
the expiration of time for seeking such review. Swartz v.
Meyers, 204 F.3d 417, 419 (3d Cir. 2000); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A) (stating that the
one-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”).
the New Jersey Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition
for certification on direct appeal on July 14, 2011. (ECF No.
17-10). As a result of those direct appeals, on February 6,
2012, the New Jersey Superior Court amended Petitioner's
judgment of conviction. (ECF No. 17-11). Although Petitioner
did not seek to appeal his amended judgment of conviction, he
enjoys the benefit of the 45-day time period in which he
could have appealed to the Appellate Division.
Burton, 549 U.S. at 156-57. Thus, the amended
judgment of conviction became final within the meaning of
§ 2244(d)(1)(A), and the one-year habeas deadline began
to run, on March 22, 2012. Petitioner, however, did not file
his federal habeas petition until five years later, on March
22, 2017. (ECF No. 1, at 16). Accordingly, unless our
jurisprudence tolls the limitations period, Petitioner's
habeas petition is untimely.
filing of a PCR petition may statutorily toll (i.e., suspend)
the running of the one-year habeas limitations period.
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.”). A prisoner's application for state
collateral review is “‘properly filed' when
its delivery and acceptance are in compliance with the
applicable laws and ...