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Ramon Johnson v. Jeffery Dillman

May 31, 2011

RAMON JOHNSON,
PETITIONER,
v.
JEFFERY DILLMAN, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



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

1424434,

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Ramon Johnson, an inmate at the Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham, Virginia, has presented a petition for a writ of habeas which he has been granted leave to prosecute in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed and because reasonable jurists could not conclude that a basis for appeal exists, a certificate of appealability will be denied.

Johnson is presently serving a twenty to forty year sentence imposed following his conviction by a jury of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and simple assault at No. 200211596 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

This sentence was imposed on September 2, 2003.*fn1 An appeal was taken to the Superior Court in which the questions presented were:

I. When the defense is that someone else raped the complainant and DNA evidence matches someone other than the defendant, can the Rape Shield Law be used to violate the defendant‟s rights to present a defense, to confront witnesses, and to due process by precluding the jury from hearing this evidence?

II. (A). When imposing consecutive, statutory-maximum sentences, must the sentencing court state sufficient and appropriate reasons for [ ] why it deemed consecutive sentences necessary?

II. (B). Is a sentence clearly unreasonable and manifestly excessive when it is comprised of consecutive, statutory-maximum sentences for what is essentially they typical type of crime for these charges?*fn2

On January 26, 2005 the Superior Court affirmed the judgment of sentence.*fn3

A petition for allowance of appeal was filed in which the following issues were raised:

I. When the defense is that someone else raped the complainant and DNA evidence matches someone other than the defendant, can the Rape Shield Law be used to violate the defendant‟s rights to present a defense, to confront witnesses, and to due process by precluding the jury from hearing this evidence?

II. Is Superior Court correct that this Court‟s cases that pre-date DNA testing no longer control whether evidence is admissible in a Rape-Shield-Law case?

III. In determining whether evidence is admissible, is Superior Court correct that the standard should be that the evidence is proof of the defendant‟s innocence or should the standard instead remain one of relevance?*fn4

On April 18, 2006, leave to appeal was denied*fn5 and certiorari was denied by the United States Supreme Court on October 2, 2006.*fn6

On April 25, 2007, Johnson filed a timely post-conviction petition.*fn7 That petition was dismissed without a hearing on June 17, 2008.*fn8 An appeal was filed in the Superior Court in which the issues presented were:

I. Whether trial counsel gave ineffective assistance for failing to object to the testimony of facts surrounding Appellant‟s arrest?

II. Whether trial counsel gave ineffective assistance for failing to question Mary Brown at trial about being on probation at the time of the alleged offense?

III. Whether trial counsel gave ineffective assistance for failing to object to the prosecutor‟s closing arguments?*fn9

On September 23, 2009, the denial of post-conviction relief was affirmed.*fn10 Leave to appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court raising these same issues was sought and subsequently denied on September 8, 2010.*fn11

The instant petition was executed on March 2, 2011, and in it, petitioner contends he is entitled to relief on the following grounds:

1. The exclusion of evidence of another‟s DNA because of the Rape Shield Law violated Mr. Johnson‟s constitutional right to due process and present a defense. Trial Judge did not allow jury to see or hear exculpatory evidence that would exonerate petitioner, thus violating petitioner‟s due process rights.

2. The consecutively imposed statutory maximum sentences should be vacated because they were imposed without sufficient reason for the need of consecutive sentences. Only one sentence should have been imposed. The crimes of rape [and] IDSI merge for sentencing purposes. Trial judge ...


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