GLOVER v. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Claire C. Cecchi on 9/28/17. (cm, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civil Action No. 16-4972 (CCC)
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, et al.,
Pro se Petitioner Rashaad Glover, a prisoner confined at the New Jersey State Prison in
Trenton, New Jersey, seeks to file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 2$ U.S.C.
§ 2254. Petitioner has declared that this Petition sets forth all grounds for relief and is his one, all
inclusive habeas petition. (ECF No. 1 at 17.) At this time, the Court must screen the Petition in
accordance with Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. It appearing:
1. According to the Petition, pursuant to a guilty plea, Petitioner was convicted of aggravated
manslaughter and other related crimes on May 4, 2012, and was sentenced on June 15, 2012 to 15
year’s imprisonment. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Petitioner admits that he did not appeal his conviction
and sentence, nor did he file an application for post-conviction relief (“PCR”). (Id. at 3-4, 7.) The
only claim raised in the Petition is that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the crime.
(Id. at 6.)
2. The Petition appears to be time-barred. Federal law requires 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). In most cases and in this particular
case, the one-year period begins on “the date on which the judgment became final by the
conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review[.]” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(1)(A). Because Petitioner did not appeal his conviction and sentence, they became final,
for the purposes of his federal habeas petition, at the expiration of time to file such an appeal.
Jimenez v. Quarterman, 555 U.S. 113, 121 (2009). Under New Jersey court rules, Petitioner had
45 days to appeal his conviction and sentence, see N.J. Court Rules, R. 2:4-1(a), Lombardi v.
Masso, 207 NJ. 517, 540-41 (2011), so his conviction and sentence became final on July 30, 2012,
which started his one-year limitations period.
3. Federal law provides that “[t]he time during which a properly filed application for State
post-conviction 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.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2244(d)(2). That is, Petitioner’s one-year limitations period would be statutorily tolled during
the pendency of any state PCR application.
However, here, Petitioner did not file a PCR
application, so no statutory tolling applies. Because the Petition was filed on August 9, 2016, more
than four years after his conviction became final, the Petition is statutorily time-barred.
4. The Court is aware that even if the statutory time bar has passed, Petitioner may overcome
that limitation if he can show a basis for equitable tolling. Fahy v. Horn, 240 F.3d 239, 244 (3d
Cir. 2001). Nonetheless, assuming, arguendo, the Petition was timely filed, it still suffers from
other defects. First, because Petitioner did not appeal his conviction nor file a PCR application,
he failed to exhaust his state court remedies as required by federal law. Federal statutory law
requires a petitioner to exhaust state court remedies before he can raise a claim on federal habeas,
and the Court cannot grant habeas relief if a claim has not been exhausted in state court. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b) (“An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant
to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that
the applicant has
exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State[.]”). The exhaustion requirement gives
the state courts the “opportunity to pass upon and correct alleged violations of its prisoners’ federal
rights.” Collins v. Sec y ofPa. Dep ‘t. ofCorr., 742 f.3d 528, 542 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Baldwin
v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004)). A state prisoner must exhaust the remedies available in state
courts before bringing his federal habeas petition, unless “there is an absence of available state
corrective process or.
circumstances exist that render such process ineffective[.]” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(b)(1)(B). A claim is exhausted in state court only when the petitioner has presented the
claim at each level of state court empowered to hear such claim, either on direct appeal or in postconviction proceedings. Holloway v. Horn, 355 F.3d 707, 714 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing 0 ‘Sullivan
v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844-45 (1999)).
5. In the Petition, Petitioner asserts that he had withdrew his PCR application on the account
that a reopening of his case may adversely affect the plea agreement he had negotiated, which
could potentially result in a harsher sentence. (ECF No. 1 at 7.) That does not constitute good
cause to excuse a failure to exhaust. The fact that Petitioner did not wish to risk a harsher sentence
and forwent his opportunity to seek PCR was a choice he made, and cannot be used to bypass the
exhaustion requirement. See Camacho v. Pa. Dep’t of Corr., No. 96-0012, 1996 WL 524109, at
*3 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 17, 1996). Indeed, the purpose of a plea agreement is to provide finality
criminal prosecution—Petitioner cannot seek to benefit from such an agreement while continuing
to assert his right to contest the conviction. If Petitioner truly believed that he was innocent of his
crime, and wished to challenge the indictment at trial to prove his innocence, he could have simply
chosen to reject the plea agreement. “[A] counseled plea of guilty is an admission of factual guilt
so reliable that, where voluntary and intelligent, it quite validly removes the issue of factual guilt
from the case.” Menna v. New York, 423 U.S. 61, 62 n.2 (1975).
6. Moreover, the guilty plea also foreclosed Petitioner’s claim that the conviction was
obtained without sufficient evidence. When a defendant enters into a counseled, intelligent, and
voluntary plea agreement, “he may not thereafter raise independent claims relating to the
deprivation of constitutional rights that occurred prior to the entry of the guilty plea.” Toltett v.
Henderson, 411 U.S. 258, 267 (1973); see United States v. Whitmer, 505 F. App’x 167, 173 (3d
Cir. 2012). As the Court stated above, if Petitioner truly believed in his innocence, he should have
challenged the indictment at trial to prove his innocence. The fact that Petitioner pled guilty
foreclosed any argument that he was innocent of the crime—the admission of factual guilt is the
very definition of a guilty plea. Menna, 423 U.S. at 62 n.2. Accordingly, the Petition is dismissed
with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
7. Lastly, the Court denies a certificate of appealability. Pursuant to 28 U.S.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 2$ 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
§ 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
Ely. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327 (2003). Here, Petitioner has failed to make a substantial showing
of the denial of a constitutional right. Thus, no certificate of appealability shall issue.
8. An appropriate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
Claire C. Cecchi
United States District Judge
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