Baker v. Lane et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) (sc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
STEPHEN FREDERICK BAKER,
JAY LANE, et al.,
On December 15 2016, Petitioner, Stephen Frederick
Baker, Jr., an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at
Fayette, Labelle, Pennsylvania, filed a pro se petition for writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1.)
paid the $5.00 filing fee.
The petition will now be given
preliminary consideration pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules
Governing § 2254 Cases, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254.1 For the reasons
set forth below Baker’s petition will be dismissed as untimely
In the petition Baker alleges that on September 11,
2006, he pled guilty to two counts of second degree murder and one
count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and was
sentenced by the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County,
1. Rule 4 states in pertinent part that “[t]he clerk must
promptly forward the petition to a judge under the court’s
assignment procedure, and the judge must promptly examine it. If
it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits
that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district
court, the judge must dismiss the petition . . . .”
Pennsylvania, to two terms of life imprisonment to be served
concurrently plus a consecutive term of imprisonment of 5 to 10
years. (Doc. 1, at 1-2.)
Baker contends he filed appeals and
post-conviction proceedings in state court but his allegations
regarding the timing of those proceedings are somewhat vague. (Id.
However a review of the dockets of the Huntingdon County
Court of Common Pleas, the Pennsylvania Superior Court and the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court2 reveals that on September 20, 2006,
Baker filed in the Court of Common Pleas a post-sentence motion,
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Stephen Frederick Baker, Jr., CP31-CR-0000013-2005,3 apparently challenging the voluntariness of
his guilty pleas and claiming that his counsel was ineffective.
(See Doc. 1, at 2.)
On April 4, 2007, the Court of Common Pleas
denied the post-sentence motion4 and on April 25, 2007, Baker
2. The court utilized the Unified Judicial System of
Pennsylvania Web Portal to review the trial and appellate court
dockets of Baker’s criminal case. A district court may take
judicial notice of proceedings in another court. See United
States v. Wilson, 631 F.2d 118 (9th Cir. 1980); Hayes v.
Woodford, 444 F.Supp.2d 1127, (S.D. Cal. 2006)(“[F]ederal courts
may take judicial notice of other courts’ proceedings, within the
federal judiciary and without, if the proceedings directly relate
to the matter before the court.”).
3. See page 14 of the electronic docket of the Court of Common
Pleas accessible by Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System Web
(Last accessed December 29, 2016)).
Id. at 15.
filed a notice of appeal.5
On February 12, 2008, the Superior
Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Common Pleas.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Stephen Frederick Baker, Jr., 738
Baker did not seek review in the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court and, consequently, Baker’s judgment of conviction and
sentence became final on March 13, 2008, 30 days after the
Superior Court issued its decision.
After 309 days elapsed with
no proceedings pending in state court, Baker on January 16, 2009,
filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County a petition
under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§
9541, et seq. (“PCRA”). Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Stephen
Frederick Baker, Jr., CP-31-CR-0000013-2005.7
On November 19,
2009, the Court of Common Pleas denied the PCRA petition and that
decision became final and the PCRA proceedings terminated on
December 21, 2009, when Baker did not file an appeal to the
Superior Court.8 After an additional 43 days elapsed with no
proceedings pending in state court, Baker on February 2, 2010,
Id. at 16.
6. See page 3 of the electronic docket of the Superior Court
accessed December 29, 2016)).
7. See page 17 of the electronic docket of the Court of Common
Id. at 19.
filed a second PCRA petition.9
On February 26, 2015, the Court of
Common Pleas granted the second PCRA to the extent that Baker’s
appeal rights were reinstated and Baker filed an appeal to the
Superior Court challenging the denial of his first PCRA
However, on November 30, 2015, the Superior Court
affirmed the decision of the Court of Common Pleas. Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania v. Stephen Frederick Baker, Jr., 476 MDA 2015.11
Subsequently, on April 6, 2016, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
denied Baker’s petition for allowance of appeal. Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, Respondent v. Stephen Frederick Baker, Jr.,
Petitioner, 984 MAL 2015.12
After that denial there were no
further proceedings pending in state court and a period of 253
days elapsed before Baker filed on December 15, 2016, the present
habeas petition in this court.
There is a one-year statute of limitations for filing a
§ 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus.
See 28 U.S.C. §
For our purposes, that period starts to run from the
Id. at 20.
Id. at 22.
11. See page 3 of the electronic docket of the Superior Court
accessed December 29, 2016)).
12. See page 2 of the electronic docket of the Supreme Court
accessed December 29, 2016)).
date the conviction becomes final, defined in section
2244(d)(1)(A) as “the date on which the judgment became final by
the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for
seeking such review.”
However, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) also
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[.]”
We will first
address the question of when Baker’s conviction became final for
purposes of the commencement of the 1-year statute of limitations
and then address whether there is any other time excluded under
As stated above, Baker was sentenced on September 11,
Baker took a direct appeal and his sentence became final on
March 13, 2008. The period of time which elapsed from the date
Baker’s sentence became final until Baker filed his first PCRA
petition is 309 days.
The first PCRA petition was denied on
November 19, 2009, and a period of 43 countable days elapsed
before Baker filed a second PCRA petition.
Finally, all post-
conviction proceedings terminated when the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court denied Baker’s petition for allowance of appeal on April 6,
The total elapsed and non-excludable time is 605 days (309
+ 43 + 253 = 605) which is well in excess of the 1-year statute of
Consequently, Baker’s habeas petition filed on
December 15, 2016, was untimely filed.
An appropriate order will be entered.
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