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Edwards v. Palakovich

July 19, 2007

MITCHELL EUGENE EDWARDS, PETITIONER
v.
JOHN PALAKOVICH, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caldwell

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Petitioner, Mitchell Eugene Edwards, is an inmate at the Smithfield State Correctional Institution, in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, serving a life sentence on a 1983 conviction for second-degree murder. We are considering his petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his conviction.

Respondents contend that the petition should be dismissed as time-barred. Our own review indicates, however, that we lack jurisdiction to address the petition because in 1991 we considered a habeas petition from Edwards challenging the same conviction. In these circumstances, we have the option of either dismissing the petition or transferring it to the court of appeals so that the Third Circuit can decide whether to authorize a second habeas petition. Because Respondents are correct that the petition was filed untimely, we will dismiss rather than transfer.

II. Background

In November 1983, a jury in the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Pennsylvania, convicted Edwards of second-degree murder for the bludgeoning death of Joseph DiAngelo. On June 26, 1984, the trial court denied Edwards's post-trial motions. (Doc. 29-2, p. 59 to doc. 29-3, p. 9).*fn1

Represented by new counsel, Petitioner took a direct appeal. The Pennsylvania Superior Court found six of the seven claims raised without merit, but held that the seventh claim, raising trial counsel's alleged ineffectiveness on numerous issues, could not be addressed as it required a hearing to resolve the factual issues the claim presented. On February 25, 1986, the superior court vacated the judgment and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing.*fn2 (Doc. 30-1, pp. 55-62).

After a hearing, on November 2, 1987, the trial court concluded that Petitioner's trial counsel had not been ineffective in his representation of Petitioner. (Doc. 31-1, pp. 53-79). On October 27, 1988, the superior court affirmed and remanded for resentencing. (Doc. 31-2, pp. 4-15); see also Commonwealth v. Edwards, 384 Pa. Super 639, 551 A.2d 593 (Pa. Super. 1988)(Table, No. 00116 HBG 88). Edwards was resentenced on December 1, 1988, to a term of life imprisonment. (Doc. 31-2, pp. 28-33). The superior court affirmed, and on April 27, 1989, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied allocator. (Doc. 32, p. 15); see also Commonwealth v. Edwards, 552 Pa. 573, 559 A.2d 34 (Pa. 1989)(Table, No. 288 M.D. 88).

On August 16, 1989, Edwards came to federal court, filing his first petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging that he was denied a full, fair and adequate hearing on remand due to his PCHA counsels' ineffectiveness. Edwards v. Vaughn, No. 3:89-1452 (M. D. Pa.)(Caldwell, J.) (Doc. 31-2, pp. 34-42). On April 24, 1990, we denied the petition on the basis of his failure to exhaust state-court remedies. On January 31, 1991, the Third Circuit affirmed. See C.A. No. 90-5419 (3d Cir. Jan. 31, 1991).

On April 12, 1991, Edwards returned to state court, filing a PCRA petition, his first formal petition for post-conviction relief. The trial court denied this petition on May 22, 1991, on the ground that the issues raised were waived when not presented at the hearing on remand from direct appeal, the first "PCRA" hearing in the trial court's view. (Doc. 31-2, pp. 59-66). Edwards did not appeal that decision.

On July 18, 1991, Edwards returned to federal court, filing his second federal habeas petition. Edwards v. Vaughn, 1:91-CV-0914 (M.D. Pa.)(Caldwell, J.). This time we denied the petition on the merits, although we decided that Edwards had defaulted his only federal claim, that trial counsel had been ineffective in not challenging the prosecutor's exclusion of African-Americans from the jury on the basis of race. The Third Circuit affirmed. See C.A. No. 92-7054 (3d Cir. April 17, 1992)(unpublished opinion).

On August 3, 2004, Petitioner filed a second PCRA petition which was "denied by operation of law." (Doc. 32, p. 15). He filed a third PCRA petition on August 10, 2005. (Id. at 14-18). On March 16, 2006, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that Edwards's PCRA petition was untimely and denied his appeal. (Id. at 60).*fn3

Edwards filed his present habeas petition on September 13, 2006. Respondents ...


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