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Wali v. Attorney General of State of New Jersey

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 3, 2019

ABDUL WALI, Petitioner,
v.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al., Respondents.

          OPINION

          MADELINE COX ARLEO, DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter has been opened to the Court by Petitioner Abdul Wali's[1] filing of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons explained in this Opinion, the Petition is dismissed as untimely and without merit, and the Court also denies a certificate of appealability.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[2]

         Following waiver of the Family Part's jurisdiction pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-26, Petitioner was indicted and charged with felony murder and related offenses for acts he committed in 1990, when he was fifteen years old. He was tried before the Law Division and convicted by a jury. The sentencing judge merged all but one of the related offenses into the murder count and imposed a sentence of life imprisonment with a thirty-year period of parole ineligibility, and a concurrent term of four years on the remaining count.

         Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence on direct appeal. The Appellate Division affirmed both his conviction and sentence, and the Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Smith, No. A-4621-94 ( N.J.Super. App. Div. Feb. 18, 1997), certif. denied, 151 N.J. 72 (1997). Petitioner later filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the trial court denied. The Appellate Division affirmed, and the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Smith, No. A-1651-07 (NJ. Super. App. Div. January 2, 2009), certif. denied, 199 N.J. 132 (2009).

         Several years later, on March 4, 2013, defendant filed a pro se petition with the Law Division seeking to vacate his sentence, which he alleged was unconstitutional pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012).[3] On August 21, 2013, the motion judge entered an order, accompanied by a written decision, denying the petition. The Appellate Division affirmed in an unpublished decision. State v. Smith, 2015 WL 9694345, at * 1, 4 ( N.J.Super. App. Div. 2016). The Supreme Court of New Jersey denied certification. See State v. Smith, 225 N.J. 339 (2016).

         The instant Petition was docketed on December 8, 2016, and the Court issued an Order directing Petitioner to inform the Court as to whether this was his all-inclusive petition. On July 10, 2017, Petitioner submitted a statement stating that he wished to proceed on the petition as filed. (ECF Nos. 2-3.) The Petition raises a single ground for relief asserting that Petitioner's "DeFacto" life sentence without the possibility of parole and, by extension, New Jersey's sentencing scheme, violates Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012).[4] (ECF No. 1, Pet. at ¶ 12.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         The Court will now screen the Petition for dismissal pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. Habeas Rule 4 requires the district judge to review a petition and to sua sponte dismiss it without ordering a responsive pleading if "it plainly appears from the petition... that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in district court[.]" See Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 655 (2005)); see also McFarlandv. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994) ("Federal courts are authorized to dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally insufficient on its face"). As explained below, the Miller claim in the instant Petition is subject to dismissal as untimely and without merit.

         Under the Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Congress prescribed a one-year period of limitation for the filing of federal habeas corpus petitions by state prisoners. See Douglas v. Horn, 359 F.3d 257, 261 (2004); 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d)(1). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d)(1), [t]he 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;
(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 prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made ...

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