United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Petitioner Kenneth Kraeger's Motion
to Amend Motion Made Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 289.)
Petitioner, proceeding pro se, seeks leave to amend
his § 2255 Motion to add a new ground for relief.
Specifically, Petitioner alleges that he was deprived of his
right to due process when the Court denied a motion for
continuance of his suppression hearing. For the following
reasons, the Court will grant Petitioner leave to file his
amendment and direct the Government to respond to
Petitioner's amended § 2255 Motion.
filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on December 7, 2016. (Doc.
286.) On December 30, 2016, Petitioner made his
“Miller” election and chose to have the
Court rule on his Motion as filed. (Doc. 288.) On February 3,
2017, with his § 2255 Motion pending, the Court received
a request from Petitioner to amend his Motion. (Doc. 289.)
The amendment seeks to add a due process claim based on the
Court's denial of a motion for continuance filed by
Petitioner, through his trial counsel, prior to his
suppression hearing. (See Id. at 1, 4-5.)
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to motions to amend
habeas corpus motions.” United States v.
Duffus, 174 F.3d 333, 336 (3d Cir. 1999). As such,
generally a party may amend his habeas motion “as a
matter of course” prior to the Government's filing
of a response. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1); see also Mayle v.
Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 663 (2005). However, a one year
limitations period also applies to § 2255 motions.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f); see also
Mayle, 545 U.S. at 662. When a petitioner seeks to file
an untimely amendment to a timely filed § 2255 motion,
generally the court may permit such an amendment only when
the amendment “relates back” to the original
motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). See
United States v. Thomas, 221 F.3d 430, 436 (3d Cir.
2000). In Mayle v. Felix, the Supreme Court
clarified that new claims can relate back if they arise from
the “same conduct, transaction, or occurrence”
described in a timely filed § 2255 motion. 545 U.S. at
664. The Mayle Court further explained that, in the
habeas context, the “same conduct, transaction, or
occurrence” means that “[s]o long as the original
and amended petitions state claims that are tied to a common
core of operative facts, relation back will be in
2255 generally requires a defendant to file his motion for
habeas relief within one year of the date on which the
judgment becomes final. See 28 U.S.C. §
2255(f)(1); United States v. Davies, 394 F.3d 182,
186 n.2 (3d Cir. 2005). A judgment is final for purposes of
§ 2255 when the Supreme Court either denies certiorari
or affirms the judgment of conviction on the merits. See
Kapral v. United States, 166 F.3d 565, 569 (3d Cir.
1999). The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for
certiorari on December 7, 2015, Kraeger v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 601 (Mem), 193 L.Ed.2d 481 (Dec. 7,
2015), triggering the one year statute of limitations period
at that time. Petitioner's original § 2255 Motion
therefore appears to have been timely filed on December 7,
2016, but his proposed amendment was filed on February 3,
2017, outside the one year limitations period. Thus, unless
the proposed amendment relates back to the original petition
or qualifies for equitable tolling, it is untimely and will
be precluded. See James v. Folino, No. 07-2162, 2015
WL 5063782, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 25, 2015).
original Motion raises multiple claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel, including a claim based on his trial
counsel's handling of his suppression hearing. (Doc.
286-1, at 42-47.) Specifically, Petitioner contends that his
counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the
Court's denial of Petitioner's motion for a
continuance prior to the hearing or otherwise seek immediate
appellate review of the decision. (Id. at 45.) In
his proposed amendment, Petitioner seeks to add a new ground
for relief which the Court construes as a due process claim
based on the Court's decision to deny the same motion for
continuance that is at issue in Petitioner's original
Motion. (Doc. 289, at 4-5 (citing Ungar v. Sarafite,
376 U.S. 575 (1964).) This claim is tied to a “common
core of operative facts” that form the basis of one of
Petitioner's original ineffective assistance claims, and
thus the amendment relates back to Petitioner's timely
filed Motion. See Blakely v. Wenerowicz, No.
3:13-cv-00575, 2016 WL 4650593, at *5 (M.D Pa. June 20,
2016). Therefore, Petitioner's request for leave to file
an amendment to his original § 2255 Motion will be
Court will grant Petitioner's Motion to Amend and will
construe both his original Motion (Doc. 286) and the Motion
to Amend (Doc. 289) as a singular Motion to Vacate, Set
Aside, or Correct a Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Court believes that
allowing this amendment is in the interest of justice, as
once a § 2255 motion is decided on the merits, a party
is generally precluded from filing a subsequent § 2255
Motion, even on ...