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.

Tirado v. Klopotoski

February 18, 2010

WILLIAM LICIAGO TIRADO
v.
MICHAEL D. KLOPOTOSKI, ET AL.



ORDER

AND NOW, this 18th day of February, 2010, upon consideration of William Liciago Tirado's petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (docket entry # 1), the defendants' response thereto (docket entry # 8), the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Timothy R. Rice (docket entry # 9), and Tirado's objections thereto (docket entry # 10), and the Court finding that:

(a) In Tirado's petition, he claims that his trial counsel, Maureen Coggins, was ineffective for "failing to pursue a mental health (incompetence) defense" and choosing to not have a mental health evaluation performed for Tirado, even though the trial court had approved Coggins's request for the evaluation,*fn1 Pet. at continuation of Page 8;

(b) Tirado also contends that his guilty plea "was unlawfully induced or not made voluntarily with understanding of the nature of the charge and the consequences of the plea," Pet. at 8;

(c) Although Tirado is somewhat unclear on this point, he appears to argue not only that Coggins unreasonably abandoned valid mental health defenses but also that he was incompetent to enter his guilty plea on November 25, 2003, see Pet. at continuation of page 8 ("If Petitioner was incompetent during either the actual commission of the crime or the plea of guilty thereto; then the proceedings, which occurred afterward are void ab initio to either the plea or the commission of the crime. Petitioner's plea was unknowing, involuntary, uninformed and was unlawfully induced.");

(d) Tirado conflates mental health defenses with incompetence when he claims that Coggins "was ineffective in failing to pursue a mental health (incompetence) defense" -- and indeed he presents both issues in one "Ground" of his petition, see Pet. at 8 -- but they are distinct legal concepts;

(e) We will first address Tirado's claim for ineffective assistance of counsel regarding Coggins's decision to not pursue mental health-related defenses (the "Defense Issue");

(f) We will then discuss Tirado's claim that he was incompetent at the time of his guilty plea (the "Competency Issue")*fn2;

(g) In Judge Rice's Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), he rejects Tirado's Defense Issue, and after a careful and independent review of the record, we agree with Judge Rice's analysis and will adopt his R&R as to this claim;

(h) In Tirado's objections, he contends that once the trial court approved the motion for the mental health evaluation, his counsel and the trial court were obligated to have the evaluation done, but he does not cite -- and we are not aware of -- any legal authority for that conclusion;

(i) The Pennsylvania statutes that Tirado references provide, among other things, the steps to be followed in conducting a competency examination and require the trial court to find that a defendant is incompetent "where incompetency is established by a preponderance of the evidence," 50 P.S. § 7401, et seq.;

(j) But those provisions do not prohibit a lawyer from withdrawing a motion for a psychological evaluation or a court from vacating an order for that evaluation, as happened here;

(k) We agree with Judge Rice's analysis of this issue and conclude, as he did, that Tirado has not met the burden that 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) imposes on him regarding the Defense Issue;

(l) Judge Rice does not address Tirado's claim that he was incompetent to plead guilty, so we will discuss that issue here at some length;

(m) As an initial matter, Tirado may not have exhausted this claim in the Commonwealth because he included it in his first pro se petition for relief under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act ...


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.