WALKER v. NOGAN et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge John Michael Vazquez on 3/22/17. (cm, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
PATRICK NOGAN, et al.,
Civil Action No. 16-3752 (JMV)
JOHN MICHAEL VAZQUEZ, U.S. District Judge
On June 24, 2016, Petitioner initiated this action by filing a petition for writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his 2005 New Jersey state court conviction. (ECF
No. 1.) After Petitioner paid the filing fee, the Court reviewed the petition and dismissed it without
prejudice because it was untimely under the statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2).
(ECF Nos. 8, 9.) The Court granted Petitioner leave to file a motion to reopen for consideration
of equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. (ECF No. 9.) This matter is before the Court on
Petitioner’s submission, on November 11, 2016, of a motion to reopen his habeas petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 10.)
For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss the
petition because it is barred by the statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
On November 10, 2005, Petitioner was convicted in a New Jersey state court of conspiracy,
robbery, felony murder, manslaughter, and unlawful possession of a weapon. (ECF No. 10-2, ¶3.)
Petitioner was sentenced to a thirty-year term of imprisonment on February 23, 2006. (Id., ¶4.)
The New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division affirmed his conviction and sentence on direct
appeal on April 8, 2009. (Id., ¶6); State v. Walker, 2009 WL 928479 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.
April 8, 2009.) The New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification as to the issue of whether the
trial court’s failure to instruct the jury regarding the statutory affirmative defense to felony murder
constituted plain error and thereafter remanded the matter to the Appellate Division. (ECF No.
10-2, ¶7.) The Appellate Division affirmed the conviction on remand; and on July 28, 2010, the
New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s decision. (Id., ¶8); State v. Walker,
203 N.J. 73 (2010).
On August 5, 2011, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief. (Id., ¶13.) The
petition, with the exception of an issue relating to jail credits, was denied. (Id., ¶14.) Importantly,
the trial court determined that the petition for post-conviction relief was untimely (although the
trial judge nevertheless conducted a substantive review). Petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal
in the Appellate Division on December 6, 2013. (Id., ¶15.) The Appellate Division affirmed on
May 5, 2015. State v. Walker, 2015 WL 1980096 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. May 5, 2015). The
New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on January 29, 2016. (ECF No. 10-2, ¶17.)
Petitioner signed the petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on May 15,
2016, but it was not received by this Court until June 24, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) For purposes of this
Opinion, the Court deems the petition filed on May 15, 2016. See Burns v. Morton, 134 F.3d 109,
113 (3d Cir. 1998) (“a pro se prisoner’s habeas petition is deemed filed at the moment he delivers
it to prison officials for mailing[.]”)
On September 14, 2016, this Court found that the petition was barred by the statute of
limitations because the limitations period was not tolled when Petitioner filed an untimely petition
for post-conviction relief on August 5, 2011. (ECF No. 8 at 3-4.) Therefore, the statute of
limitations for Petitioner’s Section 2254 petition expired on October 26, 2011, absent equitable
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d) provides:
(d)(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
(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.
(2) The time during which a properly filed application for State postconviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent
judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period
of limitation under this subsection.
After the petitioner seeks, on direct appeal, review from a State’s highest court, the
judgment of conviction becomes final when a State’s highest court either declines to hear the
appeal or rules upon it. The limitations period for Section 2254 purpose then begins to run after
expiration of the 90-day period for filing a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States
Supreme Court if no petition is filed. Swartz v. Meyers, 204 F.3d 417, 419 (3d Cir. 2000).
Only a properly filed application for State post-conviction review or other collateral review
tolls the habeas statute of limitations. Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 413 (2005). A properly
filed application is one that was accepted for filing and was filed within the time limits prescribed.
(Id.) Furthermore, the tolling provision does not reset the date from which the one-year limitation
period begins to run. Johnson v. Hendricks, 314 F.3d 159, 161-62 (3d Cir. 2002) cert. denied, 538
U.S. 1022 (2003).
Petitioner submitted a certification describing his post-conviction proceedings in the state
courts, but he did not otherwise set forth a basis for equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.
(ECF No. 10.) The Court notes that Petitioner provided new information about his post-conviction
proceedings. On September 20, 2010, Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial based on newly
discovered evidence. (ECF No 10-2, ¶9.) He presented an affidavit from an accomplice who
accepted responsibility for the felony murder. State v. Walker, 2012 WL 2035815, at *1 (N.J.
Super. Ct. App. Div. June 7, 2012). The trial court denied the motion on April 21, 2011, finding
the proffered evidence was inculpatory. Id. at *2. The Appellate Division affirmed on June 7,
2012. (Id., ¶11). The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on December 4, 2012. (Id.,
Even assuming that the motion for a new trial tolled the statute of limitations under 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), the limitations period began to run when the New Jersey Supreme Court
denied certification on December 4, 2012, and it expired on or about December 5, 2013. As this
Court held in its Opinion of September 14, 2016, Petitioner’s untimely state PCR petition, 1 filed
on August 5, 2011, did not toll the statute of limitations. (ECF No. 8 at 4); see Carey v. Saffold,
536 U.S. 214, 226 (2002) (untimely petition for state post-conviction review, even if addressed on
the merits in the alternative, does not toll the federal habeas statute of limitations). Thus, the
habeas petition, filed on May 15, 2016, is barred by the statute of limitations. Petitioner has not
adequately demonstrated a basis for equitable tolling.
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c), unless a circuit justice or judge issues a certificate of
appealability, an appeal may not be taken from a final order in a proceeding under 28 U.S.C. §
2254. A certificate of appealability may issue “only if the applicant has made a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). “A petitioner satisfies
this standard by demonstrating that jurists of reason could disagree with the district court’s
resolution of his constitutional claims or that jurists could conclude the issues presented are
adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327
(2003). Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
Therefore, the Court will deny a certificate of appealability.
For the reasons discussed above, the Court dismisses Petitioner’s § 2254 petition because
it is barred by the statute of limitations in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).
An appropriate Order follows.
1 See (Addendum, Opinion of the PCR Court, June 4, 2013, ECF No. 1-1 at 61) (“The court is
compelled to conclude that the petition is untimely, and, therefore, not cognizable before the
Dated: March 22, 2017
At Newark, New Jersey
s/ John Michael Vazquez
JOHN MICHAEL VAZQUEZ
United States District Judge
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