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William Lopez Morales v. Kenneth R. Cameron

March 22, 2012

WILLIAM LOPEZ MORALES
v.
KENNETH R. CAMERON, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. William Ditter, Jr., J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before this court is a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by William Lopez Morales, an individual currently incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution in Cresson, Pennsylvania. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

On December 14 and 15, 2006, Morales and two co-conspirators engaged in a violent crime spree including several robberies, a home invasion, and an aggravated assault. On August 3, 2007, Morales entered an open plea of guilty before the Honorable Dennis E. Reinaker, Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, to six counts of armed robbery, robbery, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy/robbery, criminal conspiracy/burglary, criminal conspiracy/aggravated assault, and unlawful restraint. On October 23, 2007, Judge Reinaker sentenced Morales to an aggregate term of twenty (20) to forty (40) years of imprisonment.

Morales did not file a timely direct appeal. Morales filed an untimely direct appeal, which the court treated as a timely pro se petition under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann. § 9541, et seq. Counsel was appointed and an amended petition was filed on March 20, 2008, asserting that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to file an appeal.

On January 6, 2009, the PCRA court dismissed Morales' PCRA petition. Morales appealed the denial of PCRA relief to the Superior Court, which affirmed the PCRA court's ruling on August 26, 2009. Commonwealth v. Morales, No. 157 MDA 2009 (Pa. Super. August 26, 2009); attached to Respondents' Answer as App. "K." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied allocator on March 19, 2010. Commonwealth v. Morales, No. 784 MAL (Pa. 2009).

Morales filed this timely petition for a federal writ of habeas corpus on January 20, 2011,*fn1 asserting the following claims:

1. ineffective assistance of plea counsel due to trial counsel's failure to file a direct appeal;

2. denial of a reasonable determination of the facts by the state court; and

3. ineffective assistance of plea counsel due to her failure to properly advise Petitioner that his sentences could run consecutively.

Respondents have filed an answer to Morales' petition asserting that his claims are procedurally defaulted or without merit.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the AEDPA, a petition for habeas corpus may only be granted if (1) the state court's adjudication of the claim resulted in a decision contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, "clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;" or if (2) the adjudication resulted in a decision that was "based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1)-(2). Factual issues determined by a state court are presumed to be correct and the petitioner bears ...


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