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Fields v. Giroux

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 18, 2014

SEAN FIELDS, FR-5692, Petitioner,
v.
NANCY GIROUX, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER

ROBERT C. MITCHELL, Magistrate Judge.

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

Fields is presently serving a life sentence imposed following his conviction by a jury of criminal homicide and uniform firearms violation at No. CC XXXXXXXXX in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. This sentence was imposed on January 22, 2004.[1]

An appeal to the Superior Court was filed in which the questions presented were:

1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion by allowing photographs to be admitted into evidence, when the prejudice outweighed the probative value?
2. Whether the trial court erred or abused its discretion by failing to instruct the jury on self-defense?
3. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in failing to properly instruct the jury when they asked a specific question concerning alleged testimony concerning the owner giving Defendant permission to the use of his car?[2]

On September 14, 2005, the judgment of sentence was affirmed.[3] A petition for leave to appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was denied on December 20, 2005.[4]

A timely post-conviction petition was filed on January 24, 2006 raising the following issues:

1. Defense counsel was ineffective for failure to object to the jury instructions regarding the inference of a specific intent to kill.
2. Appellate counsel was ineffective for failure to preserve the issue regarding defense counsel's failure to object to the jury instructions regarding the inference of a specific intent to kill.
3. Trial counsel was ineffective for failure to object to the introduction into evidence of taped statement from John Everett, a Commonwealth witness.
4. Appellate counsel was ineffective for failure to object to the introduction of a taped statement from John Dominic Everett, a Commonwealth witness.[5]

On July 15, 2009, a new trial was granted based on the denial of the effective assistance of counsel.[6] The Commonwealth filed an appeal from this determination and on December 23, 2010, the Superior Court reversed the grant of a new trial and remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not counsel was ineffective in failing to challenge the Commonwealth's foundation for admission of witness Everett's prior statement as recorded recollection.[7]

The remand hearing was conducted on March 21, 2011 and on July 19, 2011, the post-conviction court again granted a new trial.[8] The Commonwealth again appealed, and on June 25, 2013, the Superior Court again reversed the grant of a new trial and reinstated the judgment of sentence.[9] Reargument was denied on August 29, 2013.[10] Leave to appeal was denied by the Supreme Court on April 1, 2014.[11]

In the instant petition executed on May 29, 2014, Fields contends he is entitled to relief on the following grounds:

1. The trial court abused its discretion in failing to properly instruct the jury concerning a specific question raised by the jury, in violation of the right to a fair trial and due process.
2. Petitioner was deprived of his state and federal constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel in the following respects:
a. Trial counsel failed to object to the introduction of a taped statement of a witness not available for cross-examination.
b. Trial counsel failed to object to Commonwealth hearsay of Mr. Brognow introduced by Det. Yingling during the trial. Det. Yingling testified that Steve Brognow stated he loaned defendant his Dodge Neon on the night of the shooting.
c. Trial counsel failed to call or investigate Mr. Louis Lee where, as counsel should have known, his previous testimony from the preliminary would have changed the outcome that the deceased started the pushing.
3. Whether the appellate court overlooked or misapprehended controlling or directly relevant authority concerning the application of Crawford v. Washington , 541 U.S. 36 (2004) ...

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