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Hoag v. Sobina

December 22, 2008

MERLE HOAG, PETITIONER,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT MR. SOBINA, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.

Magistrate Judge Baxter

OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

This is a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by a state prisoner incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania, where he is serving an aggregate sentence of life plus 34 to 68 years imprisonment, as a result of pleading guilty to a general count of criminal homicide, and pleading no contest to charges of burglary, robbery, abuse of a corpse, and possession of instruments of crime. The sentence was imposed by the Erie County Court of Common Pleas on February 10, 1986, at docket nos. 1909, 1910A & B, and 1912 of 1984. Petitioner filed a direct appeal from his judgment of sentence with the Pennsylvania Superior Court on February 27, 1986. On February 3, 1987, the Superior Court affirmed the judgment of sentence. No further direct appeal was taken.

On or about August 12, 1990, Petitioner filed with the trial court a petition under the Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA petition"), claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel. This PCRA petition was denied on November 8, 1990. Petitioner appealed the denial of his PCRA petition to the Pennsylvania Superior Court on November 19, 1990. On June 14, 1991, the Superior Court affirmed the denial of the PCRA petition and no further appeal was taken.

Petitioner filed a second PCRA petition on March 7, 1996, claiming ineffective assistance of all prior counsel. This petition was denied without hearing on April 29, 1996. This denial was not appealed by Petitioner.

On April 23, 1998, Plaintiff filed a third PCRA petition, again citing ineffective assistance of counsel. This petition was denied without hearing on May 21, 1998. Petitioner appealed this denial to the Pennsylvania Superior Court on June 1, 1998. On April 7, 1999, the Superior Court affirmed the lower court's denial of Petitioner's third PCRA petition.

Petitioner filed a fourth PCRA petition on September 6, 2001, which was again denied without hearing on October 8, 2001. Petitioner appealed this denial to the Pennsylvania Superior Court on October 24, 2001; however, this appeal was dismissed on March 19, 2002, because Petitioner failed to file a brief.

A fifth PCRA petition was subsequently filed by Petitioner on January 16, 2007. This petition was denied without hearing on February 27, 2007. This denial was appealed to the Superior Court on March 5, 2007. The Superior Court affirmed the denial on August 24, 2007. On September 21, 2007, Petitioner filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; which was denied on December 6, 2007.

The instant habeas petition was filed on May 5, 2008. In response, the Respondent has filed a motion to dismiss arguing, inter alia, that Petitioner's habeas petition was filed well beyond the expiration of the applicable one-year statute of limitations. Despite having had ample time to do so, Petitioner has failed to file a response to Respondent's motion. This matter is now ripe for disposition.

B. Statute of Limitations

The first consideration in reviewing a federal habeas corpus petition is whether the petition was timely filed under the one-year limitations period applicable to such petitions. Pursuant to the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), which became effective on April 24, 1996, the statute of limitations for filing a habeas petition is as follows:

(d) (1) 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. The ...


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