United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
STEPHEN C. BOWEN, III, Petitioner
TAMMY FERGUSON, et al., Respondents
William W. Caldwell United States District Judge
to the mailbox rule, on October 20, 2016, Stephen C. Bowen, a
state inmate incarcerated at the Benner Township State
Correctional Institution (SCI-Benner), in Bellefonte,
Pennsylvania, filed this habeas corpus petition pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges his 2011 conviction in
the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Pennsylvania, for
fleeing or attempting to elude police and driving under the
influence of a controlled substance. (ECF No. 1, Pet.)
asserts that the Petition is time-barred and, in the
alternative, argues that Bowen has failed to exhaust his
state-court remedies on all of the claims raised. Presently
before the court is Bowen's motion to withdraw his
Petition so he may exhaust his state-court remedies (ECF No.
12) and his motion for equitable tolling of the limitations
period. (ECF No. 14).
reasons that follow, Bowen's motions will denied and his
Petition dismissed as time-barred. No certificate of
appealability will be issued.
Background and Procedural History
April 5, 2011, Bowen was convicted in the Court of Common
Pleas of York County, Pennsylvania, for fleeing or attempting
to elude police and driving under the influence of a
controlled substance. See Commonwealth v. Bowen,
CP-67-CR-2096-2010 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. York
Cnty.) Petitioner was sentenced on June 1, 2011,
and received a term of imprisonment of three and one-half
years to seven years. The Pennsylvania Superior Court
affirmed Bowen's conviction and sentence on direct appeal
on October 3, 2012. See Commonwealth v. Bowen, 1798
MDA 2011 (Pa. Super. 2012). On April 9, 2013, the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Bowen's Petition for
Allowance of Appeal. Commonwealth v. Bowen, 867 MAL
2012 (Pa. 2012).
7, 2014, Bowen filed a petition under the Pennsylvania Post
Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §
9541-9546. His motion was denied on February 18, 2015. On
March 23, 2015, Bowen filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania
Superior Court. The appeal was denied on June 1, 2016.
Commonwealth v. Bowen, 514 MDA 2015 (Pa. Super.
2016). Bowen did not file a petition for allowance of appeal
with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
filed his habeas petition on October 20, 2016. (ECF No. 1,
Pet.) He alleged that his “lawyers all told [him] that
an illegal sentence has no time bar.” (Id., p.
13.) Respondent argues that the Petition is time-barred. (ECF
No. 9, Resp.) In his Reply, Bowen contends that
“[e]quitable tolling is not now nor will it ever be an
issue in [his] § 2254, due to it having been filed well
within one year of the Pennsylvania Superior Court . . .
having affirmed the lower court's ruling on 1 June,
2015.” (ECF No. 13, Reply, p. 2.)
also filed a motion to withdraw his Petition (ECF No. 12) so
that he may return to state court to address his unexhausted
filed a motion for equitable tolling of the limitations
period, asserting that he has diligently pursued appeal of
his conviction. (ECF No. 14). He contends that the
“extraordinary demands of successfully completing the
Therapeutic Community was the precluding factor which impeded
[his] ability to fully investigate the valid § 2254
claims contained” in his Petition. (Id., p.
1). Bowen does not provide any specific start or completion
dates of his participation in the Therapeutic Community.
Conceding that his petition is time-barred, he adds that he
“was unaware that the tolling began when the P.C.R.A.
time began. Petitioner was under the impression that the
tolling did not begin until ‘ALL' state remedies
were exhausted. Petitioner prays that [the Court] forgives
petitioner's misunderstanding of the tolling
procedure.” (ECF No. 15, p. 2).
petitioner confined under a state-court judgment has one year
to file a 2254 petition challenging the judgment.
See 28 U.S.C. §2244(d)(1). As relevant here,
the limitations period runs from the “date on which the
judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or
the expiration of the time for seeking such review.”
Id. This language applies to the right to seek
certiorari review in the United States Supreme Court and
means that the judgment does not become final until the