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Randolph v. Beard

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 13, 2014

JEFFREY BEARD, Commissioner, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; LOUIS B. FOLINO, Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Greene; and FRANKLIN J. TENNIS, Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, Respondents


CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, Chief District Judge.


Presently before the court is Petitioner Samuel Randolph's motion for discovery (Doc. 87), respondents' opposition thereto (Doc. 90), and petitioner's reply (Doc. 97). Following oral argument on the motion, and for the reasons set forth below, the court will grant in part and deny in part the motion for discovery (Doc. 87).

Following a jury trial, petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder and related charges in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, on May 14, 2003. The facts underlying petitioner's conviction, as related by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, are as follows:

In the early morning hours of September 1, 2001, at Roebuck's Bar in Harrisburg, an argument began between appellant and Alister Campbell, which led to a fight involving appellant, Gary Waters, and Thomas Easter; appellant was thrown out of the bar. Early the following morning, appellant drove past the bar, exchanged words with Campbell, Waters, and Easter, drove away, and then returned in a different vehicle. Appellant opened fire in the direction of Campbell and Easter, grazing Waters' hand. Ronald Roebuck, the owner of the bar, identified appellant as the shooter. In the late evening of September 2, while Campbell, Easter, and Waters were parked on Maclay Street in Harrisburg, appellant pulled up beside them and opened fire, striking Waters' back and grazing his head, thigh, and buttocks. Waters and his girlfriend, Syreeta Clayton, were able to identify appellant. On September 19, at Todd and Pat's Bar in Harrisburg, appellant opened fire, striking Campbell in the chest, arm, and leg. He seriously injured several others and killed Easter and another individual, Anthony Burton. Several witnesses identified appellant as the shooter.

Commonwealth v. Randolph, 873 A.2d 1277, 1280 (Pa. 2005). Petitioner was sentenced to death on May 15, 2003, and his sentence was formally imposed on July 10, 2003. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's convictions and death sentences on September 6, 2005. See id. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on April 3, 2006. Randolph v. Pennsylvania, 547 U.S. 1058 (2006).

On September 27, 2006, petitioner filed a pro se PCRA petition in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. A counseled, amended PCRA petition was filed on February 13, 2007.[1] Prior to filing that counseled amended PCRA petition, petitioner filed, through counsel, a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254 (Doc. 10), along with a motion to stay the federal habeas proceedings pending exhaustion of state court remedies of several of his habeas claims, (Doc. 11). By order issued February 8, 2007, these federal proceedings were stayed pending petitioner's exhaustion in state court. (Doc. 13.)

Further, during the course of his PCRA proceedings, petitioner filed a motion for discovery on May 14, 2007 in state court. (Doc. 82, R.R. Vol. V, Ex. 45.) The Commonwealth opposed the motion on procedural grounds. (Id. at Ex. 46.) Rather than ruling on the motion, the PCRA court issued an order instructing petitioner to file a supplemental amendment to his motion for discovery demonstrating: (a) good cause for the requests, and (b) whether the requested items exist or had been previously provided. Petitioner filed the supplemental amendment on August 22, 2007. The Commonwealth did not respond. Petitioner filed a second motion for discovery on February 11, 2008. (Id. at Ex. 53.) The Commonwealth responded to that motion on May 28, 2008, arguing the requests were either: (1) not relevant or (2) related to items that had already been disclosed. (Id. at Ex. 54.)

Prior to disposition of the discovery motions, on May 18, 2009, there was an altercation between petitioner and correctional officers at SCI-Greene which resulted in injury to petitioner. On July 1, 2009, petitioner wrote a letter to Judge Hoover indicating that he wished to forego state post-conviction review. After receiving briefing from the parties and conducting a hearing on petitioner's mental capacity to withdraw his PCRA claims, the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County issued an order deeming petitioner's PCRA petition withdrawn on February 13, 2013. The court did not rule on petitioner's discovery motions. Thereafter, on May 13, 2013, petitioner's habeas proceedings before this court were reactivated. (Doc. 76.)

On October 4, 2013, petitioner filed the instant motion for discovery. (Doc. 87.) After responsive and reply briefing were filed, oral argument on the motion was held on October 2, 2014.[2] (See Doc. 100.) In his motion, petitioner asks the court to permit him to conduct discovery in connection with Claims I and III of his habeas petition. In Claim I, petitioner asserts that "as a result of court error, police and prosecutorial misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel, compelling and substantial evidence of petitioner's innocence was not presented to the jury in violation of petitioner's Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights." (Doc. 10.) In Claim III, petitioner claims he was denied his right to counsel of choice at trial in violation of the Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id.) As to discovery, in his motion petitioner makes the following requests, related to his gateway claim of actual innocence and claim that he was denied his counsel of choice:

A. Petitioner should be granted discovery regarding Quendell Oliver and his associates.
B. Petitioner should be granted discovery regarding Ronald Roebuck.
C. The Court should grant petitioner access to discovery regarding investigators Lau and ...

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