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Savoy Robinson v. Brian Coleman

November 4, 2011

SAVOY ROBINSON
v.
BRIAN COLEMAN, ET AL.



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

MEMORANDUM RE: PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

I.Introduction

Petitioner Savoy Robinson ("Robinson"), proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("the Petition") under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (ECF No. 1.) This Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge David R. Strawbridge for a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on the merits of the Petition.

On May 26, 2010, Judge Strawbridge filed his R&R, which recommended that the Petition be dismissed in part and denied in all other respects. (ECF No. 11) On June 9, 2011, Robinson timely filed objections to the R&R. (ECF No. 19) Upon an independent and thorough review, and for the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the R&R except as noted in Part V.B of this Memorandum, dismisses the Petition insofar as it raises any claims of error during the proceedings for state collateral review, and denies the Petition in all other respects.

II.Factual and Procedural History

On February 3, 2005, after a trial by jury, Robinson was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania of first degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime in Philadelphia. On April 13, 2005, Robinson was sentenced principally to a term of life imprisonment for murder and a consecutive term of thirty to sixty months' imprisonment for the charge of possessing an instrument of crime.

On direct appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Commonwealth v. Robinson, No. 1676 EDA 2005 (Pa. Super. 2006). Robinson's petition for allocator to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was denied on May 15, 2007. Commonwealth v. Robinson, 583 EAL 2006 (Pa. 2007).

On July 10, 2007, Robinson filed a pro se petition for collateral relief under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 9541 et seq. He was appointed counsel, but his counsel determined that there were no meritorious issues to raise in an amended petition; accordingly, his counsel filed a no-merit letter pursuant to Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551 (1987).

After an independent review of the record, the PCRA court dismissed Robinson's petition and permitted his counsel to withdraw. Commonwealth v. Robinson, 2895 EDA 2008 (Pa. Ct. Comm. Pls. 2008). Robinson timely appealed to the Superior Court, which affirmed the decision of the PCRA court on November 24, 2009. Commonwealth v. Robinson, 2895 EDA 2008 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2009).

On May 26, 2010, proceeding pro se, Robinson filed this Petition. Construed liberally, the Petition raises claims of prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of trial, appellate, and PCRA counsel, and various violations of Robinson's rights to due process of law. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ("A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed[.]") (internal quotation marks omitted).

III.The R&R and Robinson's Objections

A. Summary of the R&R

In the R&R, Judge Strawbridge determined that all of Robinson's claims were without merit, not cognizable on habeas review, or procedurally defaulted. First, regarding Robinson's Brady claim that the state prosecutor had failed to disclose the existence of an exculpatory videotape, Judge Strawbridge found both that the claim was procedurally defaulted and that, even if the claim was not defaulted, the tape had been disclosed to the defense prior to trial. R&R at 14-16.

Second, Judge Strawbridge determined that Robinson's claims for ineffective assistance of trial counsel were (1) procedurally defaulted, insofar as Robinson claimed that trial counsel had failed to properly preserve his Brady claim; and (2) without merit, insofar as Robinson challenged his trial counsel's decision to put on a justification defense at trial and not to move to suppress Robinson's confession. R&R at 15-16.

Third, Judge Strawbridge found that all of Robinson's various claims of ineffective appellate counsel were ...


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