United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. DOOLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
petitioner, Donald Couture (Couture”) is an inmate
currently confined at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional
Institution in Suffield, Connecticut. He brings this action
pro se for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his 1991 convictions for
felony murder. The respondent has moved to dismiss the
petition on the ground that it is barred by the one-year
statute of limitations contained in 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1). For the following reasons, the motion is granted.
1981, a jury convicted Couture of three counts of felony
murder and a judge sentenced Couture to a total effective
term of imprisonment of seventy-five years to life. See
State v. Couture, 194 Conn. 530, 531 (1984), cert.
denied, 469 U.S. 1192 (1985). On October 2, 1984, the
Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the convictions. See
Id. at 560-65. In November 1986, the State of
Connecticut tried Couture a second time. See State v.
Couture, 218 Conn. 309, 311 (1991). The second trial
ended in a mistrial. See State v. Couture, 160
Conn.App. 757, 759 cert. denied, 320 Conn. 911
(2015). In May 1989, the State of Connecticut tried Couture a
third time. See Couture, 218 Conn. at 311. The jury
convicted Couture of three counts of felony murder in
violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-54c.
See Id. at 310. On June 1, 1989, a judge sentenced
Couture to a total effective sentence of seventy-five years
to life. See Pet. Writ Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 1-2,
at 2. On April 16, 1991, the Connecticut Supreme Court
affirmed the judgments of conviction. See Couture,
218 Conn. at 324, 589 A.2d at 351.
January 2, 2009, in the Connecticut Superior Court for the
Judicial District of Tolland, Couture filed a petition for
writ of habeas corpus. See Couture v. Warden, No.
CV094002847, 2014 WL 1013466, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct. Feb.
18, 2014). On March 16, 2012, Couture filed an amended
petition. See Id. On September 4, 2012, after a
hearing, the court granted the respondent's motion to
dismiss as to the first ground of the amended petition and
denied the motion as to the remaining grounds. See
Id. On October 1, 2013, Couture withdrew several grounds
in the amended petition and the court held a hearing on the
remaining grounds. See Id. On February 14, 2014, the
court granted the amended petition as to the request that
Couture's right to seek sentence review be reinstated,
but otherwise denied the amended petition. See Id.
October 27, 2015, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed
the decision of the Connecticut Superior Court. See
Couture, 160 Conn.App. at 776. On December 23, 2015, the
Connecticut Supreme Court denied the petition for
certification to appeal the decision of the Connecticut
Appellate Court. See Couture v. Comm'r of
Correction, 320 Conn. 911 (2015).
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214,
imposes a one-year statute of limitations on the filing of a
federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a
state court judgment of conviction. 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(1). Under the AEDPA, a state prisoner seeking federal
habeas relief must file his petition within one year of the
“(A) the date on which the judgment becomes 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). The limitations period may be tolled for
the period during which a properly filed state habeas
petition is pending. See 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(2).
the respondent argues that the present petition was not
timely filed and is barred. In response, Couture contends
that he filed the petition within one-year of when his state
habeas petition became final.
indicated above, on April 16, 1991, the Connecticut Supreme
Court affirmed Couture's convictions and sentence.
Therefore, for purposes of the AEDPA, Couture's
convictions and sentence would have become final on July 15,
1991, the conclusion of the ninety-day period within which he
could have filed a petition for certiorari seeking
review by the United States Supreme Court. See Gonzalez
v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 150 (2012). However,
Couture's conviction became final before the enactment of
the AEDPA on April 24, 1996. As a result, the limitations
period applicable to his petition began running on the date
of enactment, April 24, 1996 and expired on April 24, 1997.
See Wood v. Milyard, 566 U.S. 463, 468 (2012)
(“For a prisoner whose judgment became final before
AEDPA was enacted, the one-year limitations period runs from
the AEDPA's effective Dated: April 24, 1996. . . . and
expire[s] on April 24, 1997, unless [prisoner] had a
‘properly filed' application for postconviction
relief ‘pending' in . . . state court during that
period.”); Ross v. Artuz, 150 F.3d 97, 102-03
(2d Cir. 1998) (same). Couture did not file a habeas petition
in the Connecticut Superior Court until January 2, 2009, many
years after the limitations period had lapsed. The habeas
petition became final on December 23, 2015.
asserts that it is this December date from which the one year
limitations period runs. He is wrong. Although the time
during which a properly filed application for state
post-conviction or other collateral review is pending tolls
the one-year limitations period, 28 U.S.C. §2244(d)(2),
the filing of a state petition for writ of habeas corpus
after the limitations period has already run does not
re-start the one-year limitations period. See Fernandez
v. Artuz, 402 F.3d 111, 116 (2d Cir. 2005) (a state
petition does not toll the one-year statute of limitations
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), unless petition is
‘pending' [in state court] during the
tolling period”); Smith v. McGinnis,
208 F.3d 13, 17 (2d Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (Section
2244(d)(2) “excludes time during which properly filed
state relief application are pending, but does not reset the
date from which the one-year statute of limitations begins to
run”); Brewer v. Lee, No. 16-CV-4051 (RRM),
2019 WL 1384074, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2019) (Where
post-conviction motions were filed after the one year
limitations period had lapsed, they did not toll the
such, the 2009 petition in state court could not and did not
toll the already lapsed limitations period. ...