Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Soder v. Williamson

May 27, 2008

JEFFREY DALE SODER, PETITIONER,
v.
J. MICHAEL WILLIAMSON, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



(Judge Jones)

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

Petitioner Jeffrey Dale Soder ("Petitioner" or "Soder") initiated this pro se action by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("the Petition") (doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. In the Petition, Petitioner challenges the sentence imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Perry County, Pennsylvania, following his conviction for driving with a suspended license.

Petitioner also has filed a "Motion for Order to Show Cause." (Rec. Doc. 10). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the Petition and the Motion.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 22, 2005, Trooper Richard T. Fultz, Pennsylvania State Police, Newport, stopped a motor vehicle operated by Soder in Millerstown, Perry County, after observing that the vehicle did not have an inspection sticker in its windshield. (Rec. Doc. 7-2 at 8-9).*fn1 Trooper Fultz, who was familiar with Soder because he previously issued him a citation for driving an unregistered vehicle without a driver's license, also observed that the vehicle had an expired Montana Registration Plate with a registration sticker that expired in 1998. Id. at 9-10. Soder was not able to produce a driver's license and registration. Id. at 10, 12. He explained that Montana did not require that the vehicle be inspected. Id. at 12. He admitted that his Pennsylvania license was suspended, but he claimed that he had an "international operator's permit." Id.

Trooper Fultz obtained Soder's certified driver history from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ("PennDOT"), which listed an address for Soder in Costa Rica. Id. at 13-14. However, Trooper Fultz had personal knowledge, from previously issuing a citation to Soder in 2004 for driving without a license, that Soder resided at 21-A North Market Street, in Millerstown, Perry County, and also maintained a post office box in McAlisterville, Juniata County, Pennsylvania. Id.at 14-15.

Based on all of the foregoing, Fultz issued a citation to Soder charging him with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license in violation of 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1543(a). Id. at 20, 106. Trooper Fultz noted on the citation that this violation constituted Soder's seventeenth offense. Id. at 106.

On April 1, 2005, a hearing on the citation was held in the Perry County Court of Common Pleas. (See Doc. 7-2 at 2). Soder was convicted of violating 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1543(a), which states that any person who is found operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway in the Commonwealth with a suspended driver's license is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be ordered to pay a fine of $200.*fn2

Id. at 29, 104. However, because Soder was convicted of a sixth or subsequent offense under § 1543(a), he was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and sentenced to 90 days imprisonment pursuant to 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6503(a.1). Id.

Soder appealed his conviction and sentence to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. On July 14, 2006, the Superior Court remanded the case for a new trial on his conviction under § 1543(a) and sentencing pursuant to § 6503 because Soder was not advised of his right to counsel pursuant to Pa. R. Crim. P. 454(A), which provides that a defendant on trial in a summary case in which there is a reasonable likelihood of imprisonment shall be provided with counsel if indigent. Id. at 104-05; Commonwealth v. Soder, 905 A.2d 502 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2006). Following its disposition of Soder's appeal, the Superior Court relinquished jurisdiction and remanded the case to the trial court for a new trial.

The new trial was held on August 29, 2006 before the Honorable J. Michael Williamson, specially presiding.*fn3 (Rec. Doc. 7-2 at 34). Counsel was available to represent Soder, but Soder failed to appear, and the trial was conducted in absentia. Id. Following trial, Soder was convicted of operating a motor vehicle in Perry County with a suspended license in violation of 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1543(a). Id. The Court found that this was Soder's second or subsequent violation of § 1543(a), and therefore, imposed sentence pursuant to 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6503. Id. at 35. The Court sentenced Soder to pay a fine of $1,000 and to a term of two to four months imprisonment in the Perry County Correctional Facility. Id. Soder was to begin serving his sentence on September 29, 2006 unless he perfected an appeal to the Superior Court by that time. Id.

On September 1, 2006, Soder appealed his conviction and sentence to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. (See Rec. Doc. 1 at 2.)*fn4 On March 21, 2007, Soder's appeal was dismissed for failure to file a brief. (See 1513 MDA 2006). Soder filed an Application for Reconsideration on April 16, 2007, which was denied by Order dated April 17, 2007. See id.

Following dismissal of Soder's appeal, on March 27, 2007, the trial court entered an Order directing the Sheriff of Perry County to take Soder into custody and remand him to the Perry County Prison to begin serving the sentence that had been imposed on August 29, 2006. (See Rec. Doc. 1 at 20). Soder ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.