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Williams v. Garman

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 26, 2017

ALAN CRAIG WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID GARMAN, et al., Respondents.

          ORDER

          Paul S. Diamond, J.

         On February 17, 2017, state prisoner Alan Craig Williams, proceeding pro se, petitioned for federal habeas relief. (Pet., Doc. No. 1); 28 U.S.C. § 2254. I referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Timothy R. Rice, who, on April 11, 2017, recommended denying relief because Williams's Petition is untimely. (Doc. No. 2; R&R, Doc. No. 3.) Williams has submitted objections. (Objs., Doc. No. 5.) I will overrule Williams's objections, adopt Judge Rice's Report and Recommendation, and deny the Petition with prejudice as untimely.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 12, 2010, a Bucks County jury convicted Williams of: rape by forcible compulsion; rape by threat of forcible compulsion; attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion; sexual assault; indecent assault by threat of forcible compulsion; terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another; and false imprisonment. (See Pet. ¶¶ 2(a), 5, 6(c); R&R at 1); Commonwealth v. Williams, CP-09-CR-0000499-2010, Dkt. at 7-9, 15 (Bucks Cty. C.P.). On March 2, 2011, the Honorable Jeffrey L. Finley sentenced Williams to an aggregate term of 16 to 40 years' imprisonment, to be followed by five years' probation. (See Pet. ¶¶ 2(b), 3; R&R at 1); Williams, CP-09-CR-0000499-2010, Dkt. at 7-9, 17.

         On December 9, 2011, the Superior Court rejected Williams's direct appeal in an unpublished table decision. (See Pet. ¶¶ 8, 9; R&R at 1); Commonwealth v. Williams, 40 A.3d 188 (Table), 935 EDA 2011 (Pa. Super. Dec. 9, 2011). Because Williams did not seek allocatur, his judgment became final on January 9, 2012. (See R&R at 3); 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 5571(a), 9545(b)(3); Pa. R.A.P. 1112-1113.

         On January 7, 2013, Williams timely sought relief under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act, 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 9541-9546. (See Pet. ¶¶ 10, 11(a); R&R at 1); 42 Pa. C.S. § 9545(b)(1) (PCRA petition “shall be filed within one year of the date the judgment becomes final”). On May 28, 2014, after an evidentiary hearing, the PCRA court denied relief. (See Pet. ¶ 11(a); R&R at 1); Commonwealth v. Williams, 125 A.3d 454 (Table), 1841 EDA 2014, at 2 (Pa. Super. July 20, 2015). On July 20, 2015, the Superior Court rejected Williams's appeal. (See Pet. ¶ 11(b); R&R at 1-2); Williams, 125 A.3d 454 (Table), 1841 EDA 2014, at 3. On February 25, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied allocatur. (See Pet. ¶ 11(c); R&R at 2); Commonwealth v. Williams, 132 A.3d 458 (Table), 692 MAL 2015 (Pa. Feb. 25, 2016).

         On February 17, 2017, Williams filed the instant § 2254 Petition. (Pet., Doc. No. 1; see Id. at 19 (Williams's declaration that he placed instant Petition in prison mail system on February 17, 2017)); Walker v. Williams, 653 F. App'x 84, 85 n.2 (3d Cir. 2016) (per curiam) (“Prisoners are entitled to the benefit of the ‘Prison Mailbox Rule, ' which deems a pleading filed upon delivery to prison officials.” (citing Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 275 (1988))). On April 4, 2017, I referred the matter to Judge Rice for a Report and Recommendation. (Doc. No. 2.) On April 11, 2017, Judge Rice recommended that I deny the Petition with prejudice as untimely. (R&R, Doc. No. 3.) Williams has submitted objections dated April 27, 2017. (Objs., Doc. No. 5.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         In reviewing a Report and Recommendation, I am obliged to “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). As to those portions to which no objections have been made, I must “satisfy [myself] that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), advisory committee notes; see Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir. 1987) (district court's responsibility “to afford some level of review” when no objections have been made).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Before addressing Williams's objections, I will explain why Judge Rice correctly concluded that the Petition is untimely.

         A. Williams's § 2254 Petition Is Untimely

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act provides that federal habeas review of a state-court conviction is subject to a one-year limitations period, which generally runs from “the date on which the judgment of conviction became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A); see Evans v. Chavis, 546 U.S. 189, 191 (2006) (“The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 . . . requires a state prisoner whose conviction has become final to seek federal habeas corpus relief within one year.”). A petitioner may also establish one of the following alternative start dates for the limitations period:

(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was ...

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