United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Petitioner, Leon Bradley, filed this motion to alter or amend
judgment seeking relief from this Court's November 18,
2002 dismissal of his habeas corpus petition. For the reasons
that follow, Petitioner's motion is denied.
27, 1993, a jury convicted Bradley of first-degree murder,
arson, and burglary. The trial court sentenced him to life
imprisonment. Thereafter, the Pennsylvania Superior Court
affirmed Bradley's judgment of sentence and the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied his allocatur petition.
See Commonwealth v. Bradley, 644 A.2d 803 (Pa.
Super. 1994), appeal denied, 651 A.2d 531 (Pa.
September 19, 1995, Petitioner filed his first petition for
collateral relief pursuant to the Pennsylvania
Post-Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa.
C.S.A. §§ 9541-9546. The PCRA court denied the
petition and the Superior Court affirmed that decision on
June 5, 1997. See Commonwealth v. Bradley, 700 A.2d
1022 (Pa. Super. 1997). On February 24, 1998, the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied allocatur. Commonwealth
v. Bradley, 716 A.2d 1247 (Pa. 1998).
April 9, 1999, Petitioner filed a second PCRA petition, which
was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, as it was filed more
than one year after his judgment of sentence became final.
See 42 Pa. C.S.A § 9545. Bradley alleged that
his second PCRA petition fell under the
“newly-discovered evidence” exception to the
jurisdictional time-bar based on having located a previously
unavailable alibi witness. The PCRA court determined, and the
Superior Court affirmed, this did not constitute
newly-discovered evidence, as Petitioner was obviously aware
of the existence of a potential alibi witness at the time of
trial but failed to exercise due diligence to procure her
testimony at that time. See Commonwealth v. Bradley,
776 A.2d 1002 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2001), appeal denied,
567 Pa. 720, 786 A.2d 985 (2001).
March 25, 2002, Bradley filed the petition for habeas corpus
that is the subject of the instant motion. This Court adopted
the report and recommendation of Magistrate Judge Thomas J.
Reuter and dismissed the petition as untimely, as required by
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1966
(“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2244. This Court
denied Petitioner's motion to reopen the habeas petition
on March 11, 2005. In that motion, Bradley argued the statute
of limitations on his habeas petition should have been
equitably tolled based on his attorney's failure to
notify him when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed his
second PCRA petition. This Court held that Petitioner's
claim relating to counsel for his second PCRA was unrelated
to the dismissal of his habeas petition.
November 25, 2008, Bradley filed a third PCRA petition, in
which he “alleged after-discovered evidence warranting
a new trial[, ] in the form of recantation testimony from two
key Commonwealth witnesses.” Commonwealth v.
Bradley, 2013 WL 11288891, at *1 (Pa. Super. Ct. Jan.
30, 2013). The PCRA court held hearings on the allegations in
the third petition, but ultimately denied relief. Thereafter,
on January 19, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant motion,
seeking relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 60(b) is a catch-all provision that authorizes a court
to grant relief from a final judgment upon limited grounds,
including, inter alia, any reason that justifies
relief.” Joseph v. Beard, Civ. A. No. 02-2744,
2015 WL 1443970, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 27, 2015); Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b)(6). Courts are directed to exercise this broad power
under Rule 60(b)(6), “only in extraordinary
circumstances where, without such relief, an extreme and
unexpected hardship would occur.” Cox v. Horn,
757 F.3d 113, 120 (3d Cir. 2014).
Petitioner essentially presents two arguments. First, he
contends that his petition should not have been barred by the
AEDPA statute of limitations. And second, even if the
petition was properly barred by the statute of limitations,
it should be reopened for equitable purposes, based on his
substantial claim of actual innocence.
“a 60(b) motion that challenges a district court's
failure to reach the merits of a petition based on the
statute of limitations does not constitute a second
or successive habeas petition.” U.S. v.
Andrews, 463 Fed.Appx. 169, 172 (3d Cir. 2012).
Petitioner argues that the statute of limitations should not
have barred this Court from reaching the merits of his habeas
petition. He argues the statute of limitations should have
been equitably tolled while his second PCRA petition
was pending in state court. He alleges that because of his
attorney's error, he was unaware when the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court declined to review the dismissal of his
second PCRA petition. The Court refers Petitioner to
its disposition of the very same issue by Memorandum and
Order dated March 11, 2005 (ECF Doc. No. 27). His
attorney's failure to advise him of the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court's determination regarding his second PCRA
is unrelated to this Court's dismissal of his habeas
petition. Petitioner asserts that “subsequent binding
precedent has established that attorney error [of this kind]
may warrant equitable tolling of the AEDPA time
limitations.” (Pet.'s Mot. to Alter or Amend J. at
12). Petitioner ignores, however, that the case to which he
seems to refer established only that ineffective assistance
of counsel in the “initial-review collateral
proceeding” may constitute “cause” for a
petitioner's procedural default of a claim of ineffective
assistance at trial. Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 9
(2012). Petitioner does not advance the argument that counsel
on his initial-review collateral proceeding, his original
PCRA petition, was ineffective. Thus, this claim warrants no
Petitioner argues that the statute of limitations should have
been tolled because, although the PCRA court dismissed his
second PCRA petition as untimely, it was, in fact,
“properly filed” for purposes of the AEDPA. 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). Petitioner asserts that his second
PCRA petition should have been considered timely because it
fell under the “newly discovered evidence”
exception to the PCRA's statute of limitations.
(Pet.'s Mot. to Alter or Amend J. at 12). However, where
a state court ultimately holds that a post-conviction
petition is untimely, it is not “properly filed”
and does not toll the AEDPA's statute of limitations.
Pridgen v. Shannon, 380 F.3d 721, 729 (3d Cir.