Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kightlinger v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

United States District Court, Third Circuit

July 1, 2013

SHAWN KIGHTLINGER, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MAUREEN P. KELLY, Magistrate Judge.

I. RECOMMENDATION

It is respectfully recommended that the Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody (the "Petition") be dismissed and that a certificate of appealability be denied.

II. REPORT

On June 7, 2007, Shawn Kightlinger ("Kightlinger" or "Petitioner") was convicted by a jury of two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and simple possession of a controlled substance. The convictions arose from two separate drug transactions. The first drug transaction occurred on September 22, 2006, and the second drug transaction occurred on October 3, 2006. The two separate incidences were consolidated for trial. At the trial, a Pennsylvania state trooper who observed the first drug transaction which occurred on September 22, 2006, testified that he observed the transaction from a school parking lot across the street from where the drug transaction took place. The state trooper testified that he saw Petitioner approach a vehicle and hand an object to the driver of the car (who was a confidential informant cooperating with the state trooper), and that the Petitioner accepted money from the driver.

The sole issue Petitioner alleges in the Petition is that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call as a witness at trial his mother and to utilize photographs his mother had taken of the site where the first drug transaction occurred. The photographs allegedly proved that the state trooper could not have seen what he testified to at trial. Because Petitioner fails to carry his burden to show that the state courts' adjudication of this claim of ineffective assistance was an unreasonable application of United States Supreme Court precedent, the issue does not merit relief. Because jurists of reason would not find this disposition debatable, a Certificate of Appealability should likewise be denied.

A. Procedural History

Petitioner filed the Petition on July 19, 2011. However, Petitioner also filed another habeas petition in the United States District Court for the Middle District (the "Middle District Court"), attacking the same conviction as he sought to attack herein. Because Petitioner's conviction arose within the territorial confines of the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Middle District Court transferred the habeas case to this Court. Kightlinger v. SCI-Dallas, No. 2:12-CV-46 (filed in the Middle District Court on 8/22/2011). Given that there were now two habeas proceedings pending in this Court filed by Petitioner which attacked the same state court conviction, the Court ordered the two cases to be consolidated into the instant case and further ordered that Civil Action No. 12-CV-46 be closed. ECF No. 5. It is actually the habeas petition that was filed in Civil Action No. 12-CV-46 (ECF No. 1) that contains the sole issue of ineffective assistance of trial counsel that Petitioner raises as the grounds for relief. The Respondents filed their Answer, ECF No. 11, and addressed that sole issue of ineffective assistance of counsel, contending that it did not merit habeas relief. The Respondents also caused the state court records to be transmitted to this Court.

B. Applicable Legal Standards

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, tit. I, §101 (1996) (the "AEDPA") which amended the standards for reviewing state court judgments in federal habeas petitions filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 was enacted on April 24, 1996. Because Petitioner's habeas petition was filed after its effective date, the AEDPA is applicable to this case. Werts v. Vaughn , 228 F.3d 178, 195 (3d Cir. 2000).

Where the state courts have reviewed a federal issue presented to them and disposed of the issue on the merits, and that issue is also raised in a federal habeas petition, the AEDPA provides the applicable deferential standards by which the federal habeas court is to review the state courts' disposition of that issue. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) and (e).

In Williams v. Taylor , 529 U.S. 362 (2000), the United States Supreme Court has expounded upon the standard found in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). In Williams, the Supreme Court explained that Congress intended that habeas relief for errors of law may only be granted in two situations: 1) where the state court decision was "contrary to... clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" or 2) where that state court decision "involved an unreasonable application of[] clearly established Federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States." Id. at 404-05 (emphasis deleted). The United States Supreme Court explained the two situations in the following terms:

Under the "contrary to" clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by this Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than this Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Under the "unreasonable application" clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from this Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.

Williams , 529 U.S. at 412-13. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has also elucidated the "contrary to" clause by noting that "it is not sufficient for the petitioner to show merely that his interpretation of Supreme Court precedent is more plausible than the state court's; rather, the petitioner must demonstrate that Supreme Court precedent requires the contrary outcome." Werts v. Vaughn , 228 F.3d at 197 (quoting Matteo v. Superintendent, SCI-Albion , 171 F.3d 877, 888 (3d Cir. 1999)(en banc)). Moreover, it is Petitioner's burden to prove the state court decision is either contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. See Matteo , 171 F.3d at 888; Werts v. Vaughn , 228 F.3d at 197. Under the "contrary to" clause, the relevant universe ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.