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Ovens v. District Attorney, Lackawanna County

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 19, 2019

JONATHAN OVENS, Petitioner
v.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY, LACKAWANNA COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, et al., Respondents

          MEMORANDUM

          A. RICHARD CAPUTO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Jonathan Ovens, an individual confined at the Huntingdon State Correctional Institution, in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his December 8, 2011 Lackawanna convictions for various sexual offenses involving a minor. (ECF No. 1.) Upon the Court's initial review of the Petition, because it appeared to be time barred by the one-year statute of limitations set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), the Court directed the parties to address the timeliness of the petition and any applicable statutory and/or equitable tolling of the limitations period.[1] (ECF No. 5.) Respondent filed a Response seeking dismissal of the Petition as untimely. (ECF No. 8.) Mr. Ovens did not respond to the Court's Order. For the following reasons, the Petition will be dismissed as untimely.

         I. Background

         Mr. Ovens challenges his December 8, 2011 convictions in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas for aggravated indecent assault of a child, 18 Pa. C.S. § 3125(b), indecent assault of a person less than thirteen years of age, 18 Pa. C.S. § 3126(a)(7), endangering the welfare of children, 18 Pa. C.S. § 4304(a)(1), and the corruption of minors, 18 Pa. C.S. § 6301(a)(1)(i).[2] The trial court sentenced Mr. Ovens to an aggregate term of twelve years, ten months to twenty-eight years' imprisonment followed by four years of special probation. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania denied his direct appeal on January 23, 2014. Commonwealth v. Ovens, No. 894 MDA 2013, 2014 WL 11015589 (Jan. 23. 2014). Mr. Ovens did not file a petition for allowance of appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

         On August 11, 2015, Mr. Ovens filed a pro se petition for post-conviction collateral relief pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 9541-46. On August 11, 2016, the PCRA court issued a Notice of Intent to Dismiss the petition indicating it was untimely and devoid of merit. The PCRA court dismissed the petition on January 5, 2017. See Commonwealth v. Ovens, No. 310 MDA 2017, 2018 WL 388606 (Jan. 12, 2018).

         Mr. Ovens filed a notice of appeal on February 1, 2017 but it was not docketed until February 26, 2017. (Id. at *1, n.2.) The Pennsylvania Superior Court determined Mr. Ovens' judgment of sentence was final on February 24, 2014 and therefore he had until February 24, 2015, to file a timely PCRA petition. On January 12, 2018, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held Mr. Ovens' August 11, 2015-PCRA petition was untimely without exception. (Id. at *2.) Mr. Ovens did not appeal the dismissal.

         Mr. Ovens commenced this action on February 4, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) Respondent filed a response to the Petition on September 26, 2018. (ECF No. 8.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Timeliness

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) provides a one-year statute of limitations for § 2254 petitions filed by a person in state custody. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Specifically, 28 U.S.C. 2244(d) provides in relevant part:

(d)(1) A 1-year period of limitations shall apply to an application for writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitations 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 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 ...

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