United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
A. SITARSKI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is a counseled Motion to Amend the Petition
for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254 on behalf of Breon Lawrence (“Petitioner”),
an individual currently incarcerated at the State
Correctional Institute at Green in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.
For the following reasons, the Motion to Amend the Habeas
Petition is GRANTED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
August 6, 2015, following a jury trial, Petitioner was found
guilty of first-degree murder, and related offenses, for the
April 11, 2014 killing of Jahkil Swain. Commonwealth v.
Lawrence, No. 1347 EDA 2018, 2019 WL 75824, at *1 (Pa.
Super. Ct. Jan. 2019). On September II, 2015, Petitioner was
sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole. (Id.). Petitioner filed a counseled notice
of a direct appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court on
October 8, 2015. (Crim. Docket at 14). The Pennsylvania
Superior Court affirmed Petitioner's sentence on June 24,
2016. Commonwealth v. Lawrence, 3051 EDA 2015, 2016
WL 4719983, at *2-3 (Pa. Super. Ct. June 24, 2016).
April 26, 2017, Petitioner filed a pro se petition
for relief under Pennsylvania's Post-Conviction Relief
Act, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 9541, et seq.
(“PCRA”). (Crim. Docket at 16; PCRA Pet.). PCRA
counsel was appointed, and filed an amended PCRA petition.
(Crim. Docket at 16). On April 17, 2018, the PCRA Court
denied Petitioner's PCRA petition for relief. (Crim.
Docket at 18). Petitioner filed a pro se Notice of
Appeal on April 30, 2018, and subsequently filed a counseled
brief with the Pennsylvania Superior Court on October 19,
2018. (Crim. Docket at 19-20). The Superior Court affirmed
the PCRA Court's decision on January 2, 2019.
Lawrence, 2019 WL 75824.
March 19, 2019,  Petitioner filed a pro se
petition for writ of habeas corpus, raising two ineffective
assistance of counsel claims: (1) “counsel was
ineffective for failing to object to the Commonwealth's
eliciting his religion from witness Dondre Ellis, ” and
(2) “counsel was ineffective for failing to request a
charge to the jury on voluntary manslaughter.” (Hab.
Pet., ECF No. 1 at 7). Counsel for Petitioner entered his
appearance on May 16, 2019, and filed the present motion to
amend the petition for writ of habeas corpus on June 14,
2019. (Entry of Appearance, ECF No. 7; Am. Hab. Pet., ECF No.
9). On June 24, 2019, the Commonwealth filed its Response.
(Resp. Mot. Am., ECF No. 10).
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”) provides that “[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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). The
limitations period runs 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 for
seeking such review;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application
created by State action in violation of the Constitution or
laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant was
prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was
initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has
been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made
retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or
claims presented could have been discovered through the
exercise of due diligence.
2242 provides that habeas petitions “may be amended. .
.as provided in the rules of procedure applicable to civil
actions.” Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 654
(2005) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2242). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15 governs and is “made applicable to habeas
proceedings by § 2242, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
81(a)(2), and Habeas Corpus Rule 11.” Id. at
655. Amendments to add untimely claims are permitted when the
new claims relate back to timely filed claims. Id.at
657, 664; see, e.g., Armstrong v. United States,
2018 WL 1641234, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 2, 2018) (allowing
newly raised claims in an untimely filed amended habeas
petition to proceed because they related back to timely filed
claims in original habeas petition). “Amendments made
after the statute of limitations ...