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Williams v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

July 28, 2014

ROSHA C. WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH, et al., Respondents.

OPINION AND ORDER [1]

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge

Presently before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by state prisoner Rosha C. Williams ("Petitioner") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He is challenging the judgment of sentence imposed upon him by the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County on May 24, 2007. Respondents have filed a motion to dismiss in which they assert that Petitioner's claims are untimely. [ECF No. 7]. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss is granted, Petitioner's claims are dismissed with prejudice, and a certificate of appealability is denied. In addition, all of Petitioner's pending motions are denied.

I.

A. Relevant Background [2]

In 2006, Petitioner was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Driving while Operating a Suspended or Revoked License. Through his attorney, John J. Mead, Esquire, Petitioner filed a motion to suppress evidence seized from his person and from his vehicle. The Honorable William R. Cunningham presided over an evidentiary hearing on September 1, 2006. On November 14, 2006, he issued an Opinion and Order in which he denied the motion to suppress. (CP Dkt. No. 6).

On April 10, 2007, a jury found Petitioner guilty of the drug related crimes and the trial court found him guilty of the summary driving offense. The court sentenced Petitioner on May 24, 2007, to a term of three to eight years' imprisonment. He filed an appeal with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, in which he raised the following two claims:

1. Whether the Court of Common Pleas erred and/or abused its discretion in denying his motion to suppress evidence based on his illegal arrest, and allowing into evidence $600 cash found on his person, and crack cocaine found in his vehicle, at trial;
2. Whether the Court of Common Pleas erred and/or abused its discretion in denying his motion to suppress evidence based on the illegal seizure of his vehicle from his driveway, and allowing into evidence crack cocaine subsequently seized from his vehicle.

On August 4, 2010, the Superior Court affirmed Petitioner's judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Williams, 2 A.3d 611 (Pa.Super. 2010). The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied a petition for allowance of appeal ("PAA") on March 29, 2011. Commonwealth v. Williams, 19 A.3d 1051 (Pa. 2011). His judgment of sentence became final on or around June 27, 2011, upon expiration of the time to file a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. Gonzalez v. Thaler, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 641, 653-56 (2012) (a judgment becomes final at the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of time for seeking such review); Swartz v. Meyers, 204 F.3d 417, 419 (3d Cir. 2000) (same).

On or around April 26, 2011, before his judgment of sentence had become final, Petitioner commenced proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa.C.S. § 9541 et seq. The PCRA court appointed Tina M. Fryling, Esq., to represent him, and she filed a supplemental PCRA motion on his behalf. (CP Dkt. No. 26, 39). The Honorable Shad Connelly held an evidentiary hearing, and on October 27, 2011, he issued an Opinion and Order denying Petitioner's claims on the merits. (CP Dkt. No. 48).

Petitioner filed an appeal to the Superior Court in which he claimed that his trial counsel provided him with ineffective assistance for:

(1) failing to call Jackie Williams, Samad Robinson, and Bradly Foulk to testify at the suppression hearing;
(2) failing to insist that the Commonwealth reveal the identity of the confidential informant;
(3) devising and proceeding with a trial strategy counter to Petitioner's ...

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