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Carl v. Good

November 20, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


I. Introduction

James Skip Carl, an inmate currently confined at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis in this matter. In accordance with United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644 (3d Cir. 1999), and Mason v. Meyers, 208 F.3d 313 (3d Cir. 2000), an order was issued advising the Petitioner that: (1) he could have the document ruled on as filed, or (2) withdraw his petition and file one, all-inclusive § 2254 petition. Petitioner responded by submitting a Notice of Election in which he opted to have his petition considered as filed. A show cause order was issued and a response and traverse were thereafter filed. The petition is presently ripe for disposition, and for the reasons that follow, will be denied.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

On September 5, 2002, following jury trial in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, Carl was convicted on one count each of delivery of a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy. He was sentenced to 71/2 to 15 years imprisonment and a $50,000.00 fine. A timely appeal was filed with the Pennsylvania Superior Court on October 18, 2002. (See Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Carl, 1620 MDA 2002.) On February 25, 2004, the conviction and sentence were affirmed. Carl filed a petition for allowance of appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on March 25, 2004, which was denied on August 31, 2004. (See Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Carl, 227 MAL 2004.) Although Respondent states that Carl sought post-collateral relief pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post-Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 9541-9546, there is no evidence in the record that a PCRA petition was ever filed.*fn2 The instant petition was filed on February 18, 2005. A response to the petition was submitted on April 21, 2005 (Doc. 16). Petitioner filed a traverse on May 6, 2005. (Doc. 22.)

The relevant facts, as extracted from the Pennsylvania Superior Court's opinion on direct appeal, are as follows:

In January 1998, Detectives Gregory Macey, Eric Stouch, and Jan Walters, and other members of the Lancaster County Drug Task Force began to investigate the activities of Frank Castrenze following receipt of an informant's tip that Castrenze was selling cocaine and that [Carl] was his supplier. Working undercover, Detective Stouch made three separate purchases of cocaine from Castrenze on three days prior to January 28, 1998, and, on January 28, 1998, the detective went to Castrenze's home allegedly seeking to purchase cocaine.

Castrenze left his residence briefly and returned with five ounces of cocaine for Detective Stouch to purchase. Other members of the Drug Task Force then knocked, announced their presence, and entered Castrenze's residence to execute a search warrant and arrest Castrenze.

In an effort to obtain leniency Castrenze quickly named [Carl] as his drug supplier and offered to call him. With detective Macey listening in on another telephone extension, Castrenze called [Carl] and an incriminating conversation ensued wherein [Carl] advised Castrenze that he would be over shortly to pick up the money that Castrenze had received for the five ounces of cocaine that [Carl] had provided to him. As part of the investigation and pursuant to information they obtained from the three previous purchases of cocaine from Castrenze at his East Marion Street residence, the detectives obtained search warrants in anticipation of the sting operation for Castrenze's residence, [Carl's] residence, located at 685 Almanac Avenue, and [Carl's] blue Ford Taurus. When [Carl] arrived at Castrenze's residence, the detectives immediately arrested him in front of the house. Detective Macey advised [Carl] of his Miranda rights, listing ten specific rights contained on a card that Detective Macey carried with him at all times for that purpose. [Carl] waived his right to remain silent and advised Detective Macey that he wanted to speak with him and did not wish an attorney to be present. Detective Macey then advised [Carl] that he had two anticipatory search warrants, one for [Carl's] vehicle and one for his residence. At [Carl's] request, Detective Macey transported him to his home in order to execute the search warrant. The execution of the warrant on the residence yielded additional cocaine and drug paraphernalia; however, that evidence, later determined to be the product of an unlawful search, was not used in the prosecution at issue before us.

The record reveals that when they arrived at [Carl's] home, Detective Macey gave [Carl] Miranda warnings for a second time. [Carl] again specifically waived his right to remain silent and to have an attorney present. The two sat down at the dining room table and Detective Macey administered [Carl] Miranda warnings for a third time. [Carl] waived his rights again and they began discussing the five ounces of cocaine that [Carl] allegedly had provided to Castrenze. Initially, [Carl] was not willing to answer direct questions about his role in providing the cocaine. The following exchange, which reveals the extent of [Carl's] hesitation in answering questions by police, as testified to by Detective Macey at the suppression hearing, occurred:

[DETECTIVE MACEY]: Okay. What time did you bring the five ounces of cocaine to Frank's house.

And he [Carl] responded, I'm not sure I want to answer that.

At that point I asked him, okay, then we have nothing to talk about.

And he said, can I go over an sit on the couch and watch the Sixers game. There was a game on TV.

And I said yeah, go ahead.

At that point he walked over and sat on his couch and was watching the game.

At that point I started conducting an inventory of all the evidence and I was pretty busy.

At approximately 8:18 p.m., the same date, 23 January, '98, he asked to speak with me and he wants to tell the truth about everything.

At first I had put him off a couple times. And he continually asked me to speak with me [sic].

And at that point I was busy and I really didn't -- I believed that I had enough evidence, I didn't really need any statement from him.

At that point he continued. And basically after I got done doing some inventory, I brought him back over to the table and I basically reminded Mr. Carl of his rights, again, and asked him if he still wanted to talk with me and he responded yes.

I then followed up with, are your sure. And he responded, yes, I do. [MR. BROWN]: Okay. Did you, again, use the rights card that you used the previous two times? [DETECTIVE MACEY]: Yes. [MR. BROWN]: Go ahead with the transcription of the substance of that conversation then. [DETECTIVE MACEY]: Right after that it was okay, now ...

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