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Redman v. Smeal

April 12, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baylson, J.


I. Introduction

Petitioner Jermaine Redman filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, raising four grounds for relief (Docket No. 1). This Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Jacob P. Hart for a Report & Recommendation ("R & R") on the merits (Docket No. 3), and the Government responded to Redman's petition (Docket No. 10).

On October 8, 2009, Judge Hart filed his R & R, which recommended that the petition be denied. (Docket No. 14). On January 11, 2010, Redman, after having been granted an extension of time, timely filed objections to the R & R. (Docket No. 18). Upon independent and thorough review, and for the reasons stated below, the Court will adopt the R & R and deny the Petition for Habeas Corpus.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

A jury in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County convicted Redman of various charges, including third-degree murder, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment of anotherperson, and possession of an instrument of crime. Commonwealth v. Redman, No. 2150 EDA 2004, J.S45016/05, at 3 (Pa. Super. Ct. Nov. 30, 2005) (unpublished memorandum) (internal citations omitted). On direct appeal, Redman challenged the sufficiency of the evidence underlying his conviction. On November 30, 2005, the Pennsylvania Superior Court denied his appeal, and described the facts underlying Redman's conviction as follows:

On May 27, 2001, Redman entered a crack house located in the 1500 block of North Woodstock Street in the city of Philadelphia and thereafter became engaged in an altercation with an individual known only as "Man." During the altercation, Redman's watch became loose, fell off his wrist, and landed behind a sofa. When Redman left the house he did not realize that his watch had fallen off his wrist. A woman named "Birdie" subsequently retrieved the watch from behind the sofa and placed it on the table. Approximately two hours later, Andre Stanley entered the house and took the watch.

At approximately 5:00 a.m. that same morning, Redman returned to the residence and asked Harold Finney about the missing watch, at which point Redman shot Finney in the foot. After Redman shot Finney, other occupants in the residence immediately informed Redman that Stanley had taken the watch. Redman then stated that he was going to "f-k Andre up" and immediately left the residence.Once Redman had departed, Finney called the police and was subsequently transported to a local hospital where a bullet was removed from his foot.

Later that morning, Redman drove up to Stanley on the 1400 block of North 17t Street and asked him, "[w]here's my fucking watch, Dre?" Stanley replied . . . that the "bald-headed bitch got your watch." Redman then shot Stanley, resulting in Stanley's death. The police were able to determine that the bullet recovered from Stanley's body was of the same type and was fired from the same firearm as the one that was used to shoot Finney.

Id. at 1-2 (internal citations omitted).

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court then denied Redman's petition for allocatur. (Habeas Pet. ¶ 9(e).)

On May 4, 2006, Redman filed a timely petition for review under Pennsylvania's Post-Conviction Relief Act, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 9541, et. seq. ("PCRA"). Redman's appointed counsel filed a letter of no merit and requested to be excused from the case, pursuant to Commonwealth v. Turner, 544 A.2d 927 (Pa. 1988), and Commonwealth v. Finley, 550 A.2d 213 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1988) (en banc). According to appointed counsel, Redman brought four claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. (Letter from Def. Counsel to Judge Gary S. Glazer 3-8, Gov't Resp., Ex. B.) Redman filed a pro se response to counsel's Finley letter. (Docket No. 19.)

On May 29, 2007, the PCRA court dismissed Redman's petition and permitted his counsel to withdraw. Commonwealth v. Redman, 2001 Nos. 0417 and 0418 (Ct. Com. Pl. Phila., May 29, 2007), Docket No. 21. The Pennsylvania Superior Court denied Redman's subsequent pro se appeal. Commonwealth v. Redman, No. 1574 EDA 2007, J.S13036/08, No. 1574 EDA 2007 (Pa. Super. Ct. Apr. 9, 2008) (unpublished memorandum). On October 7, 2008, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Redman's petition for review. Commonwealth v. Redman, 959 A.2d 319 (Pa. 2008) (table).

On February 12, 2009, Redman filed this petition for habeas corpus relief, which raised the same four ineffective assistance of counsel claims as his earlier PCRA petition. Judge Hart filed his R & R on October 8, 2009, recommending that the habeas petition be denied. Redman filed timely objections to the R & R, which challenge Judge Hart's conclusions as to three of the four habeas claims.

III. The Parties' Contentions

A. Summary of the ...

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