United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
MICHAEL M. BAYLSON, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is a Report and Recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge Jacob P. Hart, denying Petitioner Charles Campbell's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (the "Petition") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Upon independent and thorough review, and for the reasons stated below, the Court will affirm the Report and Recommendation and dismiss the Petition.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
Campbell challenges his incarceration under a state court conviction for robbery, aggravated assault and carrying a firearm on public streets under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Campbell was convicted on December 10, 1991, and sentenced to 40 to 80 years. On January 4, 1994 the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the judgment and sentence, and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied Campbell's petition for appeal on April 20, 1994.
Campbell filed a petition under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act, 42 Pa. C.S. §§9541-9546, on January 4, 1994. He was appointed counsel, but counsel filed a "no-merit letter" and withdrew on November 7, 1997. Petitioner's counsel wrote that he reviewed the trial record and found a reasonable basis for all of the trial attorney's acts and omissions. (ECF No. 8B). Petitioner proceeded prose, arguing his sentence was illegal because it exceeded the lawful maximum by sentencing him to consecutive terms of 10 to 20 years based on a single incident. (ECF No. 8B). Notably, the attorney's no-merit letter explained that the petitioner raised this same claim in direct appeal. The PCRA court dismissed Campbell's petition on December 8, 1997, finding no merit to the issue raised, and the Superior Court affirmed the dismissal on June 23, 1999. Campbell filed a second petition on October 8, 1999, which was dismissed as untimely on November 29, 1999. The Superior Court upheld the dismissal on August 16, 2000. Campbell filed a third petition on April 4, 2004, which was dismissed as lacking merit and untimely. The Superior Court affirmed the dismissal on June 27, 2006.
Campbell filed a federal habeas petition on July 9, 2013 asserting actual innocence, insufficient evidence to support his conviction, that his consecutive sentence is illegal, and that the Pennsylvania court erred in denying his petition under the PCRA. (ECF No. 1).
II. THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Magistrate Judge Jacob P. Hart recommended the petition be denied as untimely, because Campbell's conviction was final on April 20, 1994, and even tolling for properly filed state collateral proceedings does not render his petition timely. Magistrate Judge Hart further found equitable tolling does not apply to this case because Petitioner did not diligently pursue his rights, he was not prevented from asserted his rights, and he does not raise any new evidence to support an actual innocence exception.
III. PETITIONERS OBJECTIONS TO THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Campbell contends the Federal Rules of Procedure Governing Habeas petitions was not followed, because the U.S. Attorney General failed to respond to his petition, and this failure to answer prejudiced Campbell.
Campbell next contends he was denied his right to an attorney for the PCRA petitions and appeals.
Campbell finally argues that statutory and equitable tolling should apply, because the PCRA court erred in denying his initial petition.
A. Habeas Procedure ...