United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
ROBERT C. WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
MARK CAPOZZA, et al., Respondents.
JOHN E. JONES III
October 16, 2018, Petitioner Robert C. Williams
(“Petitioner”), filed the instant petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
challenging convictions entered in the Court of Common Pleas
of York County, Pennsylvania on November 16, 2012. (Doc. 1).
In response to the petition, Respondents filed a motion (Doc.
12) to dismiss the petition as untimely. Although Petitioner
has not filed a brief in opposition to the motion, in his
petition, he acknowledges the untimeliness of the petition
and argues that he is entitled to equitable tolling of the
statute based on governmental interference and actual
innocence. (Doc. 1, pp. 36, 37).
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant
Respondents' motion and dismiss the petition as untimely.
November 16, 2012, after a jury convicted Petitioner of one
count of second-degree murder and two counts of robbery, the
Court of Common Pleas of York County sentenced him to life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (Doc. 1; Doc.
12-1, p. 49). He did not pursue a direct appeal. (Doc. 12-1,
p. 49). However, on July 9, 2013, he filed a Post Conviction
Relief Act (“PCRA”) petition pursuant to 42 Pa.
Cons. Stat. §§ 9541-46, which resulted in a
reinstatement of his right to a direct appeal. (Id.)
filed a direct appeal on January 31, 2015. On March 9, 2015,
the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed his judgment of
sentence. (Id. at pp. 49-56). He did not seek
filed a timely PCRA on June 2, 2015. (Id. at 67).
The PCRA court appointed counsel; counsel filed an amended
petition on September 16, 2015. (Id.). Following a
March 11, 2016 hearing, the PCRA court denied the petition.
(Id.) Petitioner pursued an appeal and, on August 8,
2017, the Superior Court affirmed the PCRA court's denial
of relief. Petitioner did not seek relief in the Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania.
March 8, 2018, Petitioner filed in this Court a federal
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, Williams v. Wetzel, et al., Civil No.
1:18-cv-0551. (Id. at 81-95). In accordance with
United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644, 649 (3d Cir.
1999), the Court issued an Order notifying Petitioner of the
limitation upon his rights with regard to the filing of
multiple habeas petitions. (Id. at 97-100).
Specifically, the Court notified Petitioner that “if
your current 2254 habeas petition is considered on the merits
and rejected, you no longer have the right simply to file
another 2254 petition in this Court raising other grounds for
relief, even if you are attempting to raise grounds that you
did not think of before filing the current petition. Instead,
you would have to move in the Court of Appeals for a
certificate allowing you to file that second 2254
petition.” (Id. at 97). The Order also
notified him as follows: “If you do decide to withdraw
your current petition with the intent of filing a
comprehensive 2254 petition in the future, you are also
advised that 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) sets forth a one-year
statute of limitations for filing a 2254 petition. This
section also specifies the periods of time that are not
counted towards the limitations period. You should consult
this section for when the one-year period starts to run. The
limitations deadline may affect your decision to either stand
on your current petition or file a new, comprehensive
one.” (Id. at 99). The Court directed him to
file a Notice of Election within forty-five days indicating
whether he would pursue the petition as filed or choose to
withdraw the petition so that he may file one, all-inclusive
petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 within the one-year
statute of limitations applicable to such petitions.
(Id.). Finally, the Court ordered “[i]f the
limitations period would expire during this 45-day period,
the limitations period is tolled from the date of this Order
until Petitioner's notification is filed, or until
forty-five (45) days have elapsed, whichever is earliest. In
these circumstances, and if Petitioner decides to file an
all-inclusive § 2254 petition raising all grounds for
relief, Petitioner's response must also be accompanied by
his new § 2254 petition.” Petitioner filed a
Notice of Election on June 14, 2018, choosing the following:
“I labeled my petition as a petition for writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. I choose to withdraw the
petition so that I may file one, all-inclusive petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2254 within the one-year limit for filing
such a petition.” (Id. at 102). On June 21,
2018, the Court issued an Order voluntarily withdrawing the
petition and closing the case. (Id. at 106).
October 16, 2018, he filed the instant federal petition for
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
court shall “entertain an application for a writ of
habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to
the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is
in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or
treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. §
2254(a). A petition filed under § 2254 must be timely
filed under the stringent standards set forth in the
Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”), Pub.L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214
(Apr. 24, 1996). See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) (1).
Specifically, a state prisoner requesting habeas corpus
relief pursuant to § 2254 must adhere to a statute of
limitations that provides, in relevant part, as follows:
(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 of the time ...