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White v. Clark

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

February 20, 2018

LAWRENCE WHITE, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT CLARK and DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Respondents.

          Joy Flowers Conti United States Chief Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         It is respectfully recommended that Respondents' Motion to Dismiss be granted, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus be dismissed with prejudice as untimely, and that a certificate of appealability be denied.

         II. REPORT

         A. Relevant and Procedural Background

         Presently before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by state prisoner Lawrence White (“Petitioner” or “White”), in which he is challenging his 1995 convictions for third-degree murder and carrying a firearm without a license. On February 5, 1996, White was sentenced by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County at CC No. 1995-3913 to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 12-1/2 to 25 years.[1] White filed a direct appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, but then filed a Petition to Discontinue the Appeal. As a result, the appeal was discontinued on April 1, 1996.

         On August 28, 1997, White filed a pro se petition for post-conviction collateral relief under the Post-Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”). The PCRA court denied the PCRA petition on January 5, 1998. White appealed the dismissal to the Superior Court and on April 12, 1999, the Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of the petition as untimely. White filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which was denied on July 29, 1999.

         Thereafter, White filed four additional PCRA Petitions, each of which was found to be untimely.[2] In his fifth PCRA petition, White raised claims based on Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013);[3] on August 19, 2016, the Superior Court dismissed the petition as untimely and found that no PCRA exceptions applies to the time-bar. See Commonwealth v. White, slip op., No. 1927 WDS 2015 (ECF No. 8-1, Exh 4).

         Approximately fifteen months after his fifth PCRA petition had been dismissed, White filed the instant Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus on November 9, 2017. (ECF No. 4). White recognizes that his petition is untimely, but argues that he can overcome the time bar because (i) he received a mandatory minimum sentence which was later declared unconstitutional by Alleyne and (ii) he meets the “actual innocence” standard per McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U.S. 383, 386 (2013).

         Respondents filed the instant motion to dismiss (ECF 8), White responded in opposition (ECF No. 14), and Respondents filed a Reply (ECF No. 16). The matter is ripe for disposition.

         II. Discussion

         a. Timeliness

         This proceeding is governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), the federal habeas statute applicable to state prisoners. AEDPA imposes a one-year period of limitation that applies to a habeas corpus ...


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