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Kiett v. Bonds

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 21, 2019

RALPH KIETT, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIE BONDS, et al., Respondents.

          Ralph Kiett, Petitioner Pro Se DAMON G. TYNER, Atlantic County Prosecutor JOHN J. SANTOLIQUIDO, Assistant Prosecutor Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office Attorney for Respondents

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on an Order to Show Cause issued sua sponte as to why Ralph Kiett's petition for writ of habeas corpus should not be dismissed as time barred. [Order to Show Cause, Docket Entry 3]. Petitioner Ralph Kiett opposes the dismissal and requests equitable tolling. [Show Cause Reponse, Docket Entry 4]. Respondent Willie Bonds argues Petitioner is not entitled to equitable tolling. [Limited Answer, Docket Entry 9]. The matter is being decided on the papers pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

         The principal issue to be decided is whether Petitioner has demonstrated that equitable tolling of the statute of limitations under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”) is warranted based on his alleged mental disability and new case law. The Court concludes that equitable tolling is inappropriate in this case for the reasons stated below. Therefore, the Court dismisses the petition as time barred.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On September 17, 1985, Petitioner pled guilty to murder, N.J.S.A. § 2C:11-3(a), and second-degree escape, N.J.S.A. § 2C:29-5(a). [Docket Entry 1 ¶¶ 5-6]. He was sentenced by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County, Law Division, to life imprisonment with a thirty-year term of parole ineligibility on November 25, 1985. [Id. ¶¶ 2-3]. Petitioner appealed to the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division (“Appellate Division”) seeking to withdraw his guilty plea. The Appellate Division denied his request, but the New Jersey Supreme Court vacated the guilty plea and remanded to the trial court. State v. Kiett, 582 A.2d 630 (N.J. 1990).[1] [Docket Entry 1 ¶ 9(g)].

         On remand, Petition again pled guilty and was resentenced on April 26, 1991. [Docket Entry 1 at 4]. He filed another appeal, this time challenging the validity of the search. [Id.]. Petitioner indicates the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification of this appeal on July 17, 1992. [Id.].

         Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) on March 12, 2008 raising ineffective assistance of counsel claims. [Docket Entry 9-3 at 2].[2] The PCR Court denied the petition on April 12, 2010. [Id.]. The Appellate Division affirmed “substantially for the reasons set out in [the PCR Court's] written opinion.” State v. Kiett, No. A-5166-09, 2011 WL 2416876, at *2 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. June 17, 2011).

         In October 2014, Petitioner filed a petition for “a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.” [Docket Entry 1 ¶ 11(b)]. He argued “[t]he statute used to waive jurisdiction of the defendant from juvenile court to Law Division was in an [sic] improper ex post facto application and/or based on a nonexistent law/unconstitutional act” and that “[t]he invalid waiver based on non-existent law/unconstitutional act creates a lack of jurisdiction.” [Id.]. The trial court denied the motion as untimely on November 13, 2014 and denied Petitioner's motion for reconsideration on December 11, 2014. [Id. at 13-14]. Petitioner had argued that he never received a copy of the Appellate Division decision denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, but the trial court noted that “[y]ou obviously had access to this opinion because you appealed it.” [Id. at 15]. The Appellate Division affirmed for the reasons cited by the trial court. [Id. at 21; State v. Kiett, No. A-2457-14 (N.J. Sup. Ct. App. Div. July 20, 2016)]. The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on December 7, 2016. [Docket Entry 1 at 23].

         Petitioner filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence on November 18, 2015, which was construed as a second PCR petition. [Docket Entry 9-3 at 3; Kiett, No. A-005316-15, slip op. at 3]. He “insisted that the Law Division never had jurisdiction over him because ‘the Statute relied upon to waive [him] from Juvenile Court to Superior Court, Criminal Division, [which he identified as N.J.S.A. 2A:4-48] constituted an improper ex post facto application of the law and resulted in an invalid waiver.'” [Docket Entry 9-3 at 3; Kiett, No. A-005316-15, slip op. at 3 (alterations in original)]. The PCR Court denied the petition on June 28, 2016 without an evidentiary hearing. [Docket Entry 1 at 9]. Petitioner appealed, and the Appellate Division affirmed for the reasons stated by the PCR Court on March 23, 2017. [Docket Entry 9-3; Kiett, No. A-005316-15].

         Petitioner thereafter filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on April 10, 2017. [Docket Entry 1]. The Court reviewed the petition under Habeas Rule 4 and noted that it appeared to be untimely under AEDPA. The Court issued an Order to Show Cause why the petition should not be dismissed as untimely. [Docket Entry 3]. Petitioner filed a response, [Docket Entry 4], and the Court concluded a limited answer on the issue of timeliness was warranted from Respondent Willie Bonds. [Docket Entry 5]. Respondent filed the limited answer, [Docket Entry 9], and Petitioner did not file a response.

         The matter is now ripe for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b).

         III. ...


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