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Pace v. DiGuglielmo

Supreme Court of the United States

February 28, 2005, Argued ; April 27, 2005, Decided

No. 03-9627

Opinion

 [*410]  [**1810]   Chief Justice Rehnquist delivered the opinion of the Court.

HN1[] LEdHN[1A][] [1A] The federal Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) establishes a 1-year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas corpus petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) [28 USCS § 2244(d)(1)]. That limitations period is tolled, however, while "a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending." § 2244(d)(2). This case requires us to decide whether a state postconviction petition rejected by the state court as untimely nonetheless is "properly filed" within the meaning [****5]  of § 2244(d)(2). We conclude that it is not, and hold that petitioner John Pace's federal petition is time barred.

In February 1986, petitioner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime in a Pennsylvania state court. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Petitioner did not file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and he did not file a direct appeal. In August 1986, he filed a petition under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9541 et seq (1988) (amended and renamed by Act No. 1988-47, §§ 3, 6, 1988 Pa. Laws pp 337-342). These proceedings concluded in September 1992, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied petitioner's untimely request for discretionary review.

Over four years later, on November 27, 1996, petitioner filed another state postconviction petition, this time under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9541 et seq (1998). The PCRA had replaced the PCHA in 1988 and was amended in 1995 to include, for the first time, a statute of limitations for state postconviction  [*411]  petitions, with three exceptions. 1 Although petitioner's [****6]  PCRA petition was filed after the date upon which the new time limits became effective, the petition said nothing about timeliness.

After reviewing petitioner's PCRA petition,  [****7]  appointed counsel submitted a "no-merit" letter. On July 23, 1997, the Court of Common Pleas dismissed the petition, without calling for a response from the Commonwealth.  The court noted that petitioner's claims previously had been litigated and were meritless. Petitioner appealed. On May 6, 1998, the Commonwealth filed a brief in response, asserting that petitioner's  [***675]  PCRA petition was untimely under the PCRA's time bar, § 9545(b), and citing as support  Commonwealth v. Alcorn, 703 A.2d 1054 (Pa. Super. 1997). On May 28, 1998, petitioner responded by arguing that the time limit was inapplicable to him. The Superior Court dismissed his petition as untimely on December 3, 1998. The Superior Court reasoned that petitioner's PCRA petition did not come within the statutory [**1811]  note following § 9545(b), see ibid., and that petitioner had "neither alleged nor proven" that he fell within any statutory exception, see §§ 9545(b)(1)(i)-(iii). App. 316-317. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied review on July 29, 1999. Id., at 372.

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544 U.S. 408 *; 125 S. Ct. 1807 **; 161 L. Ed. 2d 669 ***; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 3705 ****; 73 U.S.L.W. 4304; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 250

JOHN A. PACE, Petitioner v. DAVID DiGUGLIELMO, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GRATERFORD, et al.

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court rehearing denied by  Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 545 U.S. 1135, 125 S. Ct. 2931, 162 L. Ed. 2d 880, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 4986 (U.S., June 20, 2005)

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT.

 Pace v. Vaughn, 71 Fed. Appx. 127, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 15209 (2003)

Disposition: Affirmed.

properly filed, postconviction, state court, time limit, untimely, tolling, statute of limitations, procedural bar, petitions, district court, exhaustion, habeas petition, equitable tolling, limitations, proceedings, state remedy, state law, merits, limitations period, federal court, sentence, filings, post conviction relief, federal statute, time barred, Initiation, conditions, diligence, purposes, procedurally barred

Criminal Law & Procedure, Order & Timing of Petitions, Statute of Limitations, Antiterrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act, Governments, Legislation, Time Limitations, Time Limitations, General Overview, Tolling, Procedural Defenses, Exhaustion of Remedies, Civil Procedure, Justiciability, Preliminary Considerations, Equity, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Affirmative Defenses, Laches