United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
TIMOTHY R. RICE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Robert Minor, a prisoner at the State Correctional
Institution - Retreat, in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania, has
filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. I recommend his petition
be dismissed with prejudice as untimely.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
September 15, 2011, a jury found Minor guilty of third-degree
murder, conspiracy to engage in murder, and possession of an
instrument of crime with intent to employ it criminally.
Commonwealth v. Minor, CP-51-CR-0003269-2009, Crim.
Dkt. at 4. On January 3, 2012, Minor was sentenced to 32.5-65
years in prison. Id. On July 29, 2013, the Superior
Court affirmed, and on January 29, 2014, the Supreme Court
denied review. Crim. Dkt. at 10.
December 17, 2014, Minor filed a petition for collateral
relief under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act,
42 Pa. C.S. § 9541 et seq. (“PCRA”), which
the PCRA court denied on August 26, 2016. Crim. Dkt. at 10,
12. The Superior Court affirmed on April 20,
2018.Crim. Dkt. at 13.
April 17, 2019, Minor filed his federal habeas petition,
alleging (1) insufficient evidence supporting his conspiracy
conviction because no other individuals were alleged to be
involved in the conspiracy; (2) trial counsel was ineffective
for inadequately cross-examining a medical examiner, whose
testimony involved only reading another doctor's report;
(3) insufficient evidence supporting his murder conviction
because the weapon the Commonwealth presented at trial was
not conclusively proven to be the murder weapon; and (4) his
prison sentence exceeds the lawful maximum sentence. Pet. at
8, 10, 12-13.
corpus petitions are subject to a one-year limitations period
that generally starts to run once a petitioner's judgment
of sentence becomes final. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A).
Minor's sentence became final on April 29, 2014, 90 days
after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied his petition for
review. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 150
(2012) (judgment becomes final at the expiration of time for
seeking further appellate review, including certiorari to the
Supreme Court); Crim. Dkt. at 10. Although Minor then had one
year, or until April 29, 2015, to file his habeas petition,
he filed approximately four years later in April 2019.
Minor's petition is untimely unless he shows that an
alternative start date, statutory tolling, or equitable
tolling renders it timely. See Brown v. Cuyler, 669
F.2d 155, 158 (3d Cir. 1982) (petitioner must prove
“all facts entitling him to” habeas relief).
Alternative Start Date of Limitations Period
the habeas limitations period usually begins on the date the
judgment of sentence became final, a petitioner may argue
that certain alternative start dates apply instead: the date
a state-created impediment was removed, the date the Supreme
Court recognized a new and retroactive constitutional right,
or the date the factual predicate of the claim could have
been discovered with due diligence. 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1)(B)-(D). Minor does not argue that any of these
other dates apply and I see no reason any of these
alternative dates should apply. The federal limitations
period therefore began accruing when Minor's judgment
became final on April 29, 2014.
properly filed PCRA petition tolls the federal limitations
period. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); Pace v.
DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 415-17 (2005). Minor filed
his PCRA petition on December 17, 2014, 232 days after his
judgment became final. His federal limitations period was
statutorily tolled from that date until May 20, 2018, 30 days
after the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial
court's denial of his PCRA petition. See Lawrence v.
Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 332 (2007) (post conviction
review ends when the state courts have finally resolved
application for post conviction relief). Minor then had 33
days left, or until June 22, 2018, to file his petition.
Because Minor filed his petition over ten months later, it is
untimely despite the statutory tolling for his PCRA
habeas limitations period can be tolled in rare circumstances
when “principles of equity would make [its] rigid
application unfair.” Jenkins v. Superintendent of
Laurel Highlands, 705 F.3d 80, 89 (3d Cir. 2013). To
benefit from such equitable tolling, Minor must show:
“(1) that he has been pursuing his rights diligently,
and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way
and prevented timely filing.” Holland v.
Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010) (citation omitted).
Minor argues that his petition should still be considered
despite its untimeliness because he did not know of its
deadline. Pet. at 17. Minor's argument fails because a
pro se petitioner's ...