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Bowen v. Palkovich

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

September 22, 2014

DWIGHT BOWEN
v.
JOHN PALKOVICH, ET AL

MEMORANDUM

R. BARCLAY SURRICK, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Petitioner Dwight D. Bowen's pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 1), Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 27), Supplemental Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (ECF No. 44), and Objections (ECF No. 71) to the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge L. Felipe Restrepo (ECF No. 65).[1] For the following reasons, Petitioner's Objections will be overruled, the Report and Recommendation will be approved and adopted, and the Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus will be denied and dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

On August 22, 2001, Petitioner Dwight D. Bowen was arrested and charged with two counts of murder, arson, aggravated assault, risking or causing a catastrophe, and recklessly endangering another person for his role in the firebombing of a home that killed two children. On February 19, 2004, after the Commonwealth presented its case against him at trial, Bowen entered a plea of guilty to two counts of murder in the second degree and one count of simple assault, in exchange for a negotiated sentence of two consecutive life sentences for the murders and a consecutive term of one to two years for the simple assault. The trial court accepted the guilty plea and imposed the negotiated sentence. Bowen did not file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea or a direct appeal.

On May 12, 2004, Bowen filed his first petition for relief under 42 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann. §§ 9541, et seq., the PCRA. Bowen's PCRA petition was denied and on April 20, 2006, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied allowance of appeal. On December 11, 2006, Bowen filed a second PCRA petition that was dismissed on May 24, 2007, as untimely filed. On March 17, 2009, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied allowance of appeal for Bowen's second PCRA petition.

On July 21, 2006, Bowen filed his original federal habeas petition in this Court. (Pet., ECF No. 1.) The Petition raised claims challenging the effectiveness of Bowen's trial counsel and the voluntary nature of his guilty plea. ( Id. ) On April 15, 2009, Bowen filed an amended habeas petition that included ten additional arguments challenging his conviction. (Am. Pet., ECF No. 27.) On May 20, 2010, Bowen filed a "Supplemental Writ of Habeas Corpus." (Supp. Pet., ECF No. 44.)

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), this matter was referred to Magistrate Judge L. Felipe Restrepo for a report and recommendation. The Report and Recommendation was issued on January 26, 2012. (R&R, ECF No. 65.) The R&R recommended that we deny and dismiss Bowen's Petition. Bowen filed objections to the R&R. (Obj., ECF No. 71.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). We review de novo those portions of the Magistrate Judge's R&R to which specific objections have been made. Id. ; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); see also Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 141-42 (1985) ("[A] United States district judge may refer... petitions for writ of habeas corpus, to a magistrate, who shall conduct appropriate proceedings and recommend dispositions.... [A]ny party that disagrees with the magistrate's recommendations may serve and file written objections to the magistrate's report, and thus obtain de novo review by the district judge.") (internal quotation marks omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

The R&R recommended that all of Bowen's claims be dismissed or denied. (R&R 1.) The R&R first observed that Bowen's original Petition was timely filed, but that the Amended Petition and Supplemental Petition were not. Therefore, any claims that were not brought in the original Petition are time-barred and cannot be addressed on their merits. In addition, the R&R found that Bowen's claims in his Amended Petition and Supplemental Petition are procedurally defaulted. Finally, the R&R reviewed the claims in Bowen's original Petition that challenge the voluntary nature of Bowen's guilty plea and the effectiveness of Bowen's trial counsel. The R&R recommends that both claims be dismissed because neither of the claims warrant habeas relief. Bowen generally objects to all of the findings in the R&R but makes specific objections to only a number of issues. We will address each specific objection.

A. Claims in the Amended Petition and Supplemental Petition

1. Time-barred Claims

Bowen's first specific objection argues that the claims that he brings in his Amended Petition and Supplemental Petition challenging the constitutionally of the voir dire at his trial should not be time-barred. According to Bowen, he brought these claims at the earliest possible time, after he learned of them. (Obj. 5.) Bowen claims that he became aware of these claims only after he was permitted to review the trial transcript, which did not occur until after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied his appeal in April 2006. ( Id. ) Bowen claims that he tried to obtain the transcript earlier, within one year ...


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