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Moreland v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 31, 2014

LAFAYETTE M. MORELAND, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

CYNTHIA REED EDDY, Magistrate Judge.

I. RECOMMENDATION

It is respectfully recommended that the habeas petition filed by Petitioner, Lafayette M. Moreland, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 be dismissed sua sponte for lack of jurisdiction. It is further recommended that a certificate of appealability be denied.

II. REPORT

Lafayette M. Moreland ("Moreland" or "Petitioner"), an individual incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Cumberland, Maryland, seeks to challenge via this Section 2254 habeas petition, a State Conviction obtained in 2004 in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. He does so, not because he is in custody pursuant to that conviction but because his State court conviction was used to enhance a federal sentence that he is currently serving. Because he is no longer in custody pursuant to the State conviction, this Court lacks jurisdiction over the petition.

A. Facts and Procedural History

The Superior Court, in its opinion affirming the PCRA court's decision, recited the background of this case, as follows:

On March 2, 2004, Defendant Lafayette Moreland pled guilty [in a negotiated plea agreement] before this Court at CC No. XXXXXXXXX to one count of Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance, as well as two related counts. [Moreland] was sentenced to 9 to 23 months' incarceration and 5 years' probation for the first count, with no further penalty at the remaining counts. [Moreland] was represented by Stephen D. Collafella, Esq., and no direct appeal or post-sentence motion was taken from this judgment of sentence. On May 23, 2006, [Moreland] through counsel Robert G. DelGreco, Jr., Esq. filed a Motion to Terminate Probation, which was granted by this Court.
On June 15, 2010, [Moreland] pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. The Hon. David S. Cercone issued a Memorandum Order and Tentative Findings and Rulings on September 1st, 2010, noting that [Moreland's] status as a career criminal was based upon his convictions and sentence in the matter previously before this Court; and on September 3rd, 2010, Defendant was sentenced to a term of incarceration of 240 months.
On September 27th, 2012, [Moreland], represented by Robert X. Medonis, Esq., filed a Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis with this Court, claiming ineffectiveness of counsel (Attorney Colafella) in regard to the guilty plea before this Court, which was subsequently used to enhance his federal sentence from a - 10-year mandatory minimum to a 20-year mandatory minimum. After an order from this Court, the Commonwealth timely filed a response and a Motion to Dismiss the Petition. This Court issued an Order on October 17th, 2012, giving [Moreland] the Court's Notice of Intent to Dismiss the Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis.

Attorney Medonis passed away on November 5th, 2012, and the Court granted [Moreland's] pro se Motion to Extend Time to Respond to the Notice of Intent to Dismiss. Charles R. Pass, III, Esq., was appointed as counsel for [Moreland]. On February 4th, 2012, [Moreland], through Attorney Pass, timely filed a Response to the Notice of Intent to Dismiss the Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis. Upon review of [Moreland's] response, on February 6th, 2013, [the PCRA] Court issued an order dismissing the Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis [.]

Superior Court Opinion, 12/18/2013 at 2 (quoting PCRA Court Opinion. 3/19/2013, at 1-2). ECF No. 1-2. The PCRA court treated Moreland's Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis as a PCRA Petition, and found that the petition was time barred and without support in the record. The Superior Court, while affirming the PCRA Court opinion, addressed as a threshold issue, the PCRA's "currently serving" requirement and found that because Moreland could not meet the "currently serving" requirement he did not trigger the court's jurisdiction over his PCRA petition. Because Moreland did not meet the "currently serving" requirement, the Superior Court did not reach the question of the timeliness of the petition. Id. at n.5.

On October 14, 2014, Petitioner filed in this Court a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis, and attached the instant "Motion Pursuant Title 28 § 2254(d)(1) Challenging the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ...


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