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AUSTIN v. CUYLER

October 30, 1980

James AUSTIN
v.
Julius T. CUYLER et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GILES

This action is a habeas corpus petition by a state prisoner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), the matter was submitted to Magistrate Naythons for proposed findings and recommendations. His Report and Recommendation was filed on September 24, 1980. Petitioner filed untimely objections to the report on October 8, 1980, indicating that the late filing was due to delays in the prison mail system. Because the delay may have been beyond the petitioner's control, we will treat the objections as timely and make a de novo determination. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

FACTS

 Although no objection was made to factual findings, we will restate the essential facts here.

 Petitioner appealed his conviction directly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. That court transferred the appeal to the state's intermediate appellate court, the Superior Court. That court decided that admission of the evidence in contention, even if unconstitutional, was harmless. Petitioner then asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for review, but review was denied.

 As the Magistrate found, petitioner exhausted his state remedies. We adopt that portion of the Magistrate's Report.

 CLAIMS

 Petitioner raises two claims in support of his petition. The first is that evidence was admitted at his trial in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Second, he objects to the transfer of his appeal from the state's highest court to the intermediate court.

 FOURTH AMENDMENT CLAIM

 Under Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 494, 96 S. Ct. 3037, 3052, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1067 (1976), we may not examine the merits of a Fourth Amendment claim in a state habeas petition if the petitioner had an opportunity for full and fair litigation in the state court system. The Magistrate found that such opportunity was afforded. We agree, and adopt that portion of the Magistrate's Report.

 Petitioner now argues that because he was not given the "right" to a full appeal on the merits in the state's highest court, Stone v. Powell does not control his case. This argument is without merit. There is no such "right" of appeal. McKane v. Durston, 153 U.S. 684, 687-88, 14 S. Ct. 913, 914-15, 38 L. Ed. 867 (1894); accord, e.g., Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 18, 76 S. Ct. 585, 590, 100 L. Ed. 891 (1956) (plurality opinion); id. at 21, 76 S. Ct. at 591 (Frankfurter, J., concurring in judgment); Carter v. Illinois, 329 U.S. 173, 175-76, 67 S. Ct. 216, 218-19, 91 L. Ed. 172 (1946).

 In Carter, the Court said:

 
Wide discretion must be left to the States for the manner of adjudicating a claim that a conviction is unconstitutional. States are free to devise their own systems of review in criminal cases. A State may decide whether to have direct appeals in such cases, and if so under what circumstances.... So long as the rights under the United States Constitution may be pursued, it is for a State and not for this Court to define the mode by which they may be vindicated.

 Carter, 329 U.S. at 175-76, 67 S. Ct. at 218-19. Petitioner's appeal by right to the Superior Court and discretionary review by the Supreme Court easily meet this standard. Thus, he had the opportunity for full and fair litigation required by Stone v. Powell. We therefore ...


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