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Mott v. Ferguson

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 29, 2017

RICHARD A. MOTT, Petitioner,
v.
TAMMY FERGUSON, et al., Respondents.

          OPINION [1]

          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Presently before Court is the Respondents' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 12] the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by state prisoner, Richard A. Mott (the "Petitioner"), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"). For the reasons set forth below, the Respondents' motion is granted, the petition is dismissed with prejudice, and a certificate of appealability is denied.

         I.

         A. Relevant Background

         In this case, the Petitioner challenges the judgment of sentence imposed upon him by the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County on February 2, 2009. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania summarized the relevant background of this case as follows:

On November 3, 2008, [the Petitioner] entered a guilty plea to one count each of rape of a child and incest. [His] conviction stems from his sexual abuse of his then twelve-year-old daughter, who had been sexually assaulted previously by three other men, including [the Petitioner's] son. The plea bargain contained no agreement as to sentencing. At the February 2, 2009 sentencing hearing, counsel for [the Petitioner] requested that the court impose the ten-year mandatory minimum sentence on the rape of a child count. The court declined, and imposed a sentence of incarceration of not less than twenty nor more forty years on this count, with a concurrent term of not less than two nor more than ten years on the incest count. [The Petitioner] filed a direct appeal challenging the discretionary aspects of his sentence, and this Court affirmed the judgment of sentence on February 5, 2010. (See Commonwealth v. Mott, No. 313 WDA 2009, unpublished memorandum at *1-3 (Pa.Super. filed Feb. 5, 2010)) ["Mott I"].

Commonwealth v. Mott, No. 1536 WDA 2015, 2016 WL 832525, *1 (Pa.Super.Ct. Mar. 2, 2016) ("Mott II") (footnotes omitted).

         The Petitioner's judgment of sentence became final under both state and federal law on or around March 8, 2010, when his time to file a petition for allowance of appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court expired. Id.; Pa.R.A.P. 903(a); 42 Pa.C.S. § 9545(b)(3) ("a judgment becomes final at the conclusion of direct review, including discretionary review in the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, or at the expiration of time for seeking the review."); Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 149-54 (2012) (under relevant federal law a judgment becomes final at the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of time for seeking such review).

         On July 6, 2015, the Petitioner filed a pro se motion for relief under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa.C.S. § 9541 et seq. The court appointed him counsel, who filed an amended PCRA motion asserting a right to relief based on the United States Supreme Court's decision in Alleyne v. United States, __ U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013). "In Alleyne, the Supreme Court overruled its prior precedent, Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545, 122 S.Ct. 2406, 153 L.Ed.2d 524 (2002), and clarified that, under the Sixth Amendment, any facts that increase the prescribed range of penalties to which a criminal defendant is exposed are elements of the crime and must be found beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Reyes, 755 F.3d 210, 212 (3d Cir. 2014) (citations and internal quotations omitted).

         The PCRA court dismissed the Petitioner's motion because it determined that he filed it outside of the applicable state-law statute of limitations.[2] The PCRA's statute of limitations is codified at 42 Pa.C.S. § 9545(b) and it provides, in relevant part:

(1) Any petition under this subchapter, including a second or subsequent petition, shall be filed within one year of the date the judgment becomes final, unless the petition alleges and the petitioner proves that:
(iii) the right asserted is a constitutional right that was recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States or the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania after the time period provided in this section and has been held by that court to apply retroactively.
(2) Any petition invoking an exception provided in paragraph (1) shall be filed within 60 days of the date the claim ...

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