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Georges v. Bartkowski

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 21, 2019

GREG BARTKOWSKI, et al., Respondents.


          CLAIRE C. CECCHI, U.S.D.J.

         Presently before the Court is the amended petition for a writ of habeas corpus of Ashley Georges ("Petitioner") brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his state court murder conviction. ECF No. 45. Respondents filed a response to the petition (ECF No. 53), to which Petitioner replied (ECF No. 55). Also before the Court are Petitioner's motions seeking the appointment of counsel, an evidentiary hearing, and further discovery. ECF Nos. 44, 46-47. For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss Petitioner's non-Brady claims as time-barred, deny the Brady claim, deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability, and deny his remaining motions as moot in light of the dismissal of his petition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Because this Court will dismiss the petition as time-barred, only a brief recitation of the procedural history of this matter is necessary for the purposes of this opinion. Following a jury trial, Petitioner was found "guilty of purposeful or knowing murder, in violation of [N.J. Stat. Ann. §] 2C:1 l-3a(1), (2); possession of a handgun without a permit, in violation of [N.J. Stat. Ann. §] 2C:39-5b; and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, in violation of [N.J. Stat. Ann. §] 2C:39-4a," for which he ultimately received a sentence of life imprisonment with a thirty year parole disqualifier. ECF No. 53-8 at 2-3. Petitioner's judgment of conviction was entered on February 8, 2002. ECF No. 53-5. Petitioner appealed, and the Appellate Division affirmed his conviction and sentence by way of an opinion issued on September 29, 2003. ECF No. 53-8. The New Jersey Supreme Court thereafter denied Petitioner's petition for certification on June 4, 2004. ECF No. 53-9. Petitioner did not file a petition for certiorari.

         On July 29, 2005, Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief in the state courts. ECF No. 53-10; see also ECF No. 45 at 4. That petition was denied on August 28, 2007 and an order was filed on August 30, 2007. ECF No. 53-15. At some later point in or around October 2007, Petitioner submitted a request that the New Jersey public defender's office file an appeal on his behalf. ECF No. 55-1. On October 31, 2007, the public defender's office responded to that request in the form of a letter. Id. at 12. In that letter, the public defender's office informed Petitioner that a file had been opened on his case and that his matter would be referred to an appellate attorney, but that the office's "case load is overwhelming," and that the process of gathering all of the necessary documents and filing an appeal "may take several months." Id. Several months later, on January 9, 2008, [1] the public defender's office filed a notice of appeal on Petitioner's behalf. Id. at 13; ECF No. 53-16. The Appellate Division affirmed the denial of Post-Conviction relief (PCR) in an opinion issued on July 9, 2010, and the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on November 4, 2010. ECF Nos. 53-20, 52-21, and 53-22. Petitioner thereafter filed his initial habeas petition in this matter on December 1, 2010. ECF No. 1 at 52.


         A. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a), the district court "shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." The petitioner has the burden of establishing his entitlement to relief for each claim presented in his petition based upon the record that was before the state court. See Eley v. Erickson, 712 F.3d 837, 846 (3d Cir. 2013); see also Parker v. Matthews, 132 S.Ct. 2148, 2151 (2012). Under the statute, as amended by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2244 ("AEDPA"), district courts are required to give great deference to the determinations of the state trial and appellate courts. See Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 772-73 (2010).

         Where a claim has been adjudicated on the merits by the state courts, the district court shall not grant an application for a writ of habeas corpus unless the state court adjudication

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2). Federal law is clearly established for the purposes of the statute where it is clearly expressed in "only the holdings, as opposed to the dicta" of the opinions of the United States Supreme Court. See Woods v. Donald, 125 S.Ct. 1372, 1376 (2015). "When reviewing state criminal convictions on collateral review, federal judges are required to afford state courts due respect by overturning their decisions only when there could be no reasonable dispute that they were wrong." Id. Where a petitioner challenges an allegedly erroneous factual determination of the state courts, "a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct [and t]he applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1).

         B. Analysis

         1. All of Petitioner's non-Brady claims ...

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