United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
SADE O. STEWART, Petitioner,
NANCY GIROUX, Respondent.
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge.
Stewart, an inmate presently confined at the State
Correctional Institution, Muncy, Pennsylvania, (SCI-Muncy),
filed this pro se habeas corpus petition pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254. Named as Respondent is Superintendent
Nancy Giroux of SCI-Muncy. Service of the Petition was
October 28, 2010, Petitioner was convicted of attempted
homicide, aggravated assault (2 counts), simple assault, and
possession of a firearm by a prohibited person following a
jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County,
Pennsylvania. Stewart was sentenced on December 15, 2010 to
an aggregate ten (10) to twenty (20) year term of
a direct appeal, Stewart's conviction and sentence were
affirmed by a September 20, 2011 decision of the Superior
Court of Pennsylvania. See Commonwealth v. Stewart,
34 A.3d 232 (Pa. Super 2011)(Table). A petition for allowance
of appeal was denied on March 23, 2012 by the Supreme Court
of Pennsylvania. See Commonwealth v. Stewart, 40
A.3d 1236 (Pa. 2012)(Table). Stewart did not seek further
review from the Supreme Court of the United States.
October 24, 2012, Stewart filed a timely pro se
petition pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post Conviction
Relief Act (PCRA). See 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann.
§ 9541 et seq. The PCRA “permits motions
for post-conviction collateral relief for allegations of
error, including ineffective assistance of counsel,
unlawfully induced guilty pleas, improper obstruction of
rights to appeal by Commonwealth officials, and violation of
constitutional provisions.” Hankins v.
Fulcomer, 941 F.2d 246, 251 (3d Cir. 1991).
PCRA petition alleged that her trial counsel provided
ineffective assistance for neglecting to call certain
individuals as witnesses. Following appointment of counsel,
submission of an amended petition, and an evidentiary
hearing, the state trial court issued an Order denying PCRA
relief on December 4, 2013. The Superior Court affirmed the
PCRA denial on August 6, 2014. See Commonwealth v.
Stewart, 106 A. 3d 153 (Pa. Super. 2014)(Table). A
petition for allowance of appeal was then denied by the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court on February 3, 2015. See
Commonwealth v. Stewart, 108 A.3d 35 (Pa. 2015)(Table).
This federal habeas corpus petition followed.
claims entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief on the
grounds that her trial counsel's performance was
deficient for neglecting to call witnesses on her behalf, as
noted above. With respect to the issue of timeliness, a
supporting memorandum accompanying the petition contends that
the one year limitations period began to run on June 21,
2012. See Doc. 2, p. 3. After passage of one hundred
and twenty-six (126) days, Stewart states that she filed her
PCRA action which tolled the limitations period until
February 3, 2015 when she was denied leave to appeal by the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Since the limitations period did
not expire until December 27, 2015 Petitioner argues that her
action is timely. See id.
has filed a partial answer which seeks dismissal of the
petition on the grounds that it is untimely filed. Petitioner
has not filed a reply.
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
limitation period shall run from the latest of -
(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the
conclusion of direct review or the expiration for seeking
such review; ...
(2) The time during which a properly filed application for
State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect
to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be
counted toward ...