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William Housman v. John E. Wetzel

March 22, 2012

WILLIAM HOUSMAN, PETITIONER
v.
JOHN E. WETZEL, SECRETARY- THIS IS A CAPITAL CASE DESIGNEE, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; LOUIS B. FOLINO, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GREENE; AND MARIROSA LAMAS, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT ROCKVIEW, ET AL., RESPONDENTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Jones)

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Petitioner, William Housman, and his co-defendant, Beth Ann Markman ("Markman"), were tried, jointly, on capital murder charges, by a jury in the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas. Commonwealth v. Housman, CP-21-CR-0000246-2001. On November 1, 2001, Petitioner and Markman were both convicted of first degree murder and related charges. Id. On November 4, 2010, following a joint penalty phase, both Petitioner and Markman were sentenced to death. Id.

Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On December 29, 2009, his appeal was denied. Commonwealth v. Housman, 604 Pa. 596, 986 A.2d 822 (Pa. 2009). On March 12, 2010, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Petitioner's Application for Reargument.

On October 4, 2010. Petitioner's timely petition for certiorari review was denied. Housman v. Pennsylvania, 131 S.Ct. 199, 178 L.Ed.2d 120(2010).

On January 24, 2011, Petitioner filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and appointment of Federal Habeas Corpus Counsel, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 848(q). (Doc. 1, Motion). On February 4, 2011, this Court granted Petitioner in forma pauperis status, appointed counsel, and granted Petitioner a stay of execution. (Doc. 2, Order).

Presently before the Court is Petitioner's motion to stay federal proceedings*fn1 based on the June 17, 2011 filing of Petitioner's first PCRA petition, filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Cumberland County. (Doc. 3, Motion). For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Petitioner's motion for a stay and dismiss the petition.

I. Discussion

A. Statutory Framework

A district court is authorized to "entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in 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." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A petition for writ of habeas corpus is the exclusive federal remedy for a state prisoner challenging the very fact or duration of his or her confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973).

A petitioner filing for relief under the federal Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), must generally comply with the exhaustion requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), before a federal court can consider the merits of his habeas corpus petition. Pursuant to § 2254(b)(1)(A), the petitioner must give the state courts an opportunity to review allegations of error before seeking relief in federal court. Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004). "An applicant shall not be deemed to have exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, within the meaning of this section, if he has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c); see also Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518-19 (1982) (finding that before a federal court can adjudicate claims under habeas corpus, interests of comity and federalism dictate that the state courts must have the first opportunity to decide a petitioner's claims).

The AEDPA also establishes a one-year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas corpus petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1); Wilson v. Beard, 426 F.3d 653, 659 (3d Cir. 2005). This one-year period runs from the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or when the time for seeking certiorari review expires. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A); Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525 (2003). The one-year limitations period is tolled, however, while a properly filed application for state post-conviction or other collateral review is pending. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); see also Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408 (2005).

Under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act, a petitioner must file for PCRA relief within one year of the date the judgment becomes final. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. ยง 9545(b)(1). For purposes of the PCRA, a judgment becomes final at the conclusion of direct review, including discretionary review in the United States Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania ...


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