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Wayne Pettaway v. General Attoney of Pennsylvania

January 12, 2012

WAYNE PETTAWAY, PETITIONER,
v.
GENERAL ATTONEY OF PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



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

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Wayne Pettaway an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Albion has presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus 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.

Pettaway is presently serving two concurrent ten to twenty year sentenced imposed following his entry of a plea of guilty due to mental illness to charges of aggravated assault, possession of a weapon, recklessly endangering another person and harassment at No. CC20065725 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This sentence was imposed on March 18, 2008.*fn1

As disclosed by the Court of Common Pleas Docket Sheet, the plea was entered on October 24, 2007 and sentence was imposed on March 18, 2008. No appeal was pursued but on April 9, 2008, Pettaway filed a post-conviction petition; counsel was appointed to represent him; an amended petition was filed on September 17, 2008 and on December 15, 2008, leave to withdraw the post-conviction petition was granted.*fn2 No further challenges to the conviction were made.

It is provided in 28 U.S.C. §2254(b) that:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, or that there is either an absence of available State corrective process or the existence of circumstances rendering such process ineffective to protect the rights of the prisoner.

This statute represents a codification of the well-established concept which requires that before a federal court will review any allegations raised by a state prisoner, those allegations must first be presented to that state's highest court for consideration. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484 (1973); Doctor v. Walters, 96 F.3d 675 (3d Cir. 1996).

It is only when a petitioner has demonstrated that the available corrective process would be ineffective or futile that the exhaustion requirement will not be imposed. Preiser v. Rodriguez, supra.; Walker v. Vaughn, 53 F.3d 609 (3d Cir. 1995). If it appears that there are available state court remedies, the court must determine whether a procedural default has occurred. If a procedural default has occurred, the court must determine whether cause or prejudice exists for the default, or whether a fundamental miscarriage of justice would result from a failure to consider the claims. Carter v. Vaughn, 62 F.3d 591 (3d Cir. 1995).

In the instant case, it is clear that the petitioner has failed to exhaust the available state court remedies and as a result a procedural default has occurred. In Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722,750 (1991), the Court held:

In all cases in which a state prisoner has defaulted his federal claims in state court pursuant to an independent and adequate state procedural rule, federal habeas review of the claims is barred unless the prisoner can demonstrate cause for the default and actual prejudice as a result of the alleged violation of federal law, or demonstrate that failure to consider the claim will result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice.

Because no such showing is made here, the petitioner has failed to exhaust the available state court remedies and no further consideration of his petition is warranted here. Additionally, It is provided in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1) and (d)(2) that:

(1) A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to the application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court. The limitation period shall run from the latest of -

(A) The date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review;

(B) The date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant ...


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