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Hansen v. Clark

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 23, 2017

PAUL NELSON HANSEN, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL CLARK, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge

         I. BACKGROUND

         Paul Nelson Hansen, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Albion, Pennsylvania (SCI-Albion), filed this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Named as Respondent is SCI-Albion Superintendent Michael Clark. Service of the Petition was previously ordered.

         Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder and related charges on July 13, 2011 following a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Pennsylvania. He was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment on August 24, 2011. Petitioner's pending action claims entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief on the grounds that trial counsel and post conviction counsel both provided ineffective assistance and there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict.

         Following the denial of a post-sentence motion, Hansen filed a timely direct appeal asserting that there was insufficient evidence to support the guilty verdict in that the Commonwealth failed to prove specific intent to kill. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Petitioner's sentence by decision dated August 17, 2012.

         A petition for allowance of appeal was denied by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on February 4, 2013. Hansen did not seek further review from the Supreme Court of the United States.

         On April 19, 2014, Petitioner filed a petition pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA).[1] Hansen's petition alleged that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel. Following a hearing, the trial court denied relief on August 8, 2014. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the denial of PCRA relief on October 19, 2016. A request for allocator was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on October 19, 2016.

         Presently pending before this Court is Respondent's motion to dismiss Petitioner's action as untimely filed. See Doc. 13. The opposed motion is now ripe for consideration.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Respondent's supporting brief initially notes that Petitioner's pending action was initiated on November 3, 2016. See Doc. 15, p. 3. Confusingly, the Respondent later asserts that this matter should be deemed filed as of October 27, 2016. See Id. at p. 6.

         Hansen's action was clearly docketed with this Court on November 3, 2016. His petition and accompanying supporting memorandum are both dated October 24, 2016. See Doc. 1, p.15.[2] A copy of a letter submitted by Petitioner indicates that he mailed out his habeas petition on October 27, 2016. See Doc. 14, p. 15. However, other documents provided by Hansen which are both file stamped October 24, 2016 by a prison official support a finding that his habeas corpus petition was given to prison officials for the purpose of mailing on that day. See Id. at pp. 11-12.

         It is well settled that a prisoner's action is deemed filed at the time it is given to prison officials for mailing to the Court. See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266 (1988). Since Hansen submitted supporting documents which support a determination that his petition was given to prison officials for mailing on October 24, 2016, the Court will accept the pro se Petitioner's multiple contentions that his action was submitted to prison officials for mailing on that day; this matter will be deemed filed as of October 24, 2016.

         Section 2244(d) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides, in relevant part, as follows:

(d)(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 ...

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