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Lyons v. Wilson

June 2, 2010

ERIC JETSON LYONS, PETITIONER,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT WILSON, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sean J. Mclaughlin United States District Judge

District Judge McLaughlin

Magistrate Judge Baxter

MEMORANDUM ORDER

I. Introduction

This habeas action filed by Petitioner*fn1 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter for a report and recommendation in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Rule 72 of the Local Rules for Magistrate Judges.

On February 10, 2010, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Doc. No. 44) recommending that the petition be denied with respect to each of Petitioner's four claims. She further recommended that a certificate of appealability ("COA") be granted with respect to Petitioner's Confrontation Claim (Claim 1) as it pertains to his conviction of making terroristic threats and that it be denied in all other respects.

Petitioner has filed Objections to the R&R. (Doc. No. 48). Where, as here, objections have been filed, the Court is required to make a de novo determination as to those portions of the R&R to which objections were made. See 28 U.S.C.§ 636(b)(1). Accordingly, this Court has carefully examined de novo all claims raised by Petitioner in his Objections and we agree with the Magistrate Judge that he is not entitled to habeas relief on any of his claims. We further agree that only a limited COA be granted. Petitioner's Objections are overruled and we approve and adopt the R&R, as supplemented herein. We write only to address his contention that he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing and to discuss the recent decision issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Greene v. Palakovich, No. 07-2163, - F.3d - , 2010 WL 2134575 (3d Cir. May 28, 2010).

II. Evidentiary Hearing

A. Background

Petitioner makes a general request for an evidentiary hearing on all of his claims. His Confrontation Clause and Compulsory Process Clause claims (Claims 1 and 2, respectively) are the type that do not require expansion of the record in post-conviction proceedings. All evidence necessary to review those claims was made part of the record during the pre-trial Tender Years Statute hearing and the trial itself. As for Claim 3 (in which Petitioner alleges that the prosecution engaged in misconduct) and Claim 4 (in which he contends that his pre-trial counsel were ineffective), Petitioner did submit with his PCRA petition several documents relevant to those claims, including, inter alia : (1) a printout of the Police Department's notes from its investigation into M.R.'s kidnapping, rape, attempted murder, and related crimes; (2) Joan Edenfield's bank records;*fn2 and, (3) the letter he contends he sent to the prosecution on October 3, 2001, notifying it of his intended alibi witnesses. (See Exs. 1, 2, and 4 to the PCRA Petition , SCR No. 149). These documents already are part of the record and were considered by this Court in evaluating, and ultimately denying, Claims 3 and 4.

Petitioner also requested a hearing before the PCRA Court. It denied that request and dismissed the PCRA petition pursuant to its authority under Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 907.*fn3 It determined that there were no issues of fact and that the record before it, considered along with the PCRA Petition and the Commonwealth's answer thereto, confirmed that Petitioner was not entitled to relief. On appeal, the Superior Court held that Petitioner failed to identify any genuine issue of material fact and that the PCRA Court did not err in denying his request for a hearing. (SCR No. 161, Commonwealth v. Lyons, No. 1101 WDA 2006, slip op. at 5-6 (Pa.Super. Feb. 12, 2007) ("Lyons 2")).

B. Discussion

Petitioner, claiming that he is "innocent" and that the jury reached the "wrong verdicts," argues that he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing in this Court. He asks this Court to reconsider the evidence that was introduced at his trial, disregard the jury's verdicts, and consider additional evidence and defenses that he failed to present there. A federal habeas court can do none of these things. Cf. Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 887 (1983) ("The role of federal habeas proceedings, while important in assuring that constitutional rights are observed, is secondary and limited. Federal courts are not forums in which to relitigate state trials.").*fn4

Petitioner also argues that he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing in accordance with Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293 (1963). (Doc. No. 48, Objections , at 3-4). Petitioner's reliance on Townsend is misplaced. In it, the Supreme Court enunciated standards regarding when a district court was required to conduct a federal habeas evidentiary hearing. That decision was superceded by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub.L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 ("AEDPA"). AEDPA significantly amended the federal habeas statute applicable to state prisoners, 28 U.S.C.ยง ...


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