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Droneburg v. Bickell

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 8, 2014

ALLEN R. DRONEBURG, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT TODD BICKELL, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM

YVETTE KANE, District Judge.

Petitioner Allen R. Droneburg ("Petitioner"), a state inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, initiated this habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In the petition, Droneburg challenges his conviction on charges of Rape of a Child by the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Upon preliminary review of the petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, see R. Governing § 2254 Cases R. 4, it appeared that the petition may be barred by the statute of limitations, see United States v. Bendolph , 409 F.3d 155, 169 (3d Cir. 2005)(en banc) (holding that district courts may sua sponte raise AEDPA's one-year statute of limitations, provided that the petitioner is provided with notice and an opportunity to respond) set forth in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). On February 24, 2014, the parties were notified that the petition appeared to be untimely, and Respondents were directed to file a response concerning the timeliness of the petition and any applicable statutory and/or equitable tolling of the AEDPA statute of limitations. Petitioner was afforded the opportunity to file a reply. (Doc. No. 5). On March 13, 2014, Respondents filed an answer to the petition addressing the timeliness of the petition and a brief in support of the answer. (Doc. Nos. 8, 9.) The relevant time period has expired and Petitioner has not filed a reply to Respondents' filings. After considering the record, the habeas petition will be dismissed as untimely for the reasons set forth below.

I. Background

On April 27, 2005, Petitioner entered a plea of guilty to one count of Rape of a Child in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Docket Number CP-28-CR-2014-2004. (Doc. No. 8, Ex. 1.) Prior to sentencing, he filed a Motion to Withdraw Plea. On October 6, 2005, a hearing was conducted on the motion, and the Franklin County Court rejected the proposed plea agreement. On February 22, 2006, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of Rape of a Child and was sentenced on July 13, 2006, to a sentence of 15-30 years imprisonment.

On August 10, 2006, an appeal was filed with the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The Superior Court affirmed the lower court's sentence on March 12, 2007. A petition for allowance of appeal filed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was denied on August 28, 2007. No further appeal was pursued to the United States Supreme Court.

A petition pursuant to the Post-Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA") was filed on January 30, 2008. A hearing on the petition was conducted on April 28, 2008. The PCRA was dismissed on the merits on May 13, 2008. Petitioner thereafter filed an appeal with the Superior Court. On July 28, 2009, the Superior Court affirmed the lower court's denial of the PCRA. A petition for allowance of appeal was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on February 12, 2010.

On August 11, 2010, Petitioner filed a pro se Motion to Withdraw and Vacate Guilty Plea Nunc Pro Tunc with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The motion was denied on September 10, 2010. (Doc. No. 8, Ex. 2.) On September 20, 2010, Petitioner filed a appeal with the Superior Court. The appeal was dismissed on November 8, 2010, due to Petitioner's failure to file a docketing statement as required by Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 3517.

On January 9, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se Motion to Correct Illegal Conviction/Illegal Sentence. The motion was denied by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on January 16, 2013 as untimely. (Id., Exs. 3, 4) On January 30, 2013, an appeal was filed with the Superior Court. The Superior Court agreed that the motion was untimely filed and affirmed the judgment of the lower court. (Id., Ex. 5 at 5.) On January 2, 2014, the instant federal habeas corpus petition was filed. The grounds raised include unconstitutional guilty plea, ineffective assistance of defense counsel, biased trial judge, and the denial of due process.

II. Discussion

The court may "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 filed under § 2254 must be timely filed under the stringent standards set forth in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). Pub.L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 12214 (Apr. 24, 1996). See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). A state prisoner requesting habeas corpus relief pursuant to § 2254 must adhere to a statute of limitations that provides, in relevant part, as follows:

(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 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....
(2) The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection.

28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)-(2); see Jones v. Morton , 195 F.3d 153, 157 (3d Cir. 1999). Thus, under the plain terms of § 2244(d)(1)(A), a state court criminal judgment does not become final until appeals have been exhausted or the time for appeal has ...


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