United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.
Before the court for disposition is United States Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick's report and recommendation (hereinafter "R&R"). The R&R suggests dismissing the instant habeas corpus petition with prejudice. Petitioner Dennis Anthony Cangiarella (hereinafter "petitioner") filed objections to the R&R bringing the case to its present posture.
Petitioner pled guilty to multiple counts of robbery, criminal mischief, theft and false imprisonment before the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania on February 15, 2007. Two robbery charges stemmed from a single pharmacy theft at which two persons were threatened. The court sentenced petitioner to serve an aggregate term of fourteen (14) to twenty-eight (28) years in prison on May 21, 2007.
The trial court provided the following factual background:
The charges arose from a series of incidents that occurred on November 6, 2006, when Defendant went on a crime spree that extended across Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Defendant stole a white GMC van from Schullers Automotive in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania. Defendant then drove to the building housing the business of American Sport Shooting, repeatedly rammed the GMC van through the wall of the building, entered the business, and removed several firearms before fleeing the area. Defendant next traveled to a BP Gas Station, a Uni-Mart, and a Just Minute Express in succession, entering each at gunpoint and exiting each with cash. After leaving the Just Minute Express, Defendant proceeded to the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Brodheadsville. There, he brandished a gun and threatened two employees, demanding prescription drugs and money. While attempting to obtain the prescription drugs, Defendant used his gun to threaten two customers who entered at different times. He escorted them both to the rear of the store and held them against their will. When Pennsylvania State Troopers arrived at the Rite-Aid, Defendant escaped from the store and fled in the stolen vehicle. Troopers pursued Defendant in a high-speed chase throughout the Indian Mountain Lakes Development before Defendant came to a dead-end road. Defendant exited the vehicle and began to flee on foot. When the Troopers caught him, he fought them and resisted arrest, but was ultimately taken into custody.
(Doc. 18-15, Trial Court PCRA Opinion at 3-4 (quoting Trial Court's 1925(a) Statement, 1/2/09)).
Upon direct appeal, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the petitioner's conviction and sentence on May 20, 2009. Petitioner sought a writ of allocatur from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Although the writ was initially granted, the Court summarily dismissed the appeal as improvidently granted on December 22, 2011. Petitioner did not seek a writ of certiorari from the United State Supreme Court.
Subsequently, petitioner filed a pro se motion pursuant to the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (hereinafter "PCRA"). He filed this motion in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas. The court denied the petition on October 10, 2012. Petitioner appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The Superior Court affirmed the Common Pleas Court's decision on July 15, 2013.
Petitioner next filed the instant pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (hereinafter "section 2254") with this court on August 6, 2013. The Clerk of Court assigned the case to Magistrate Judge Mehalchick for the issuance of a R&R. The parties briefed their respective positions and on November 6, 2014, Judge Mehalchick issued an R&R, which recommends denying the habeas corpus petition. Petitioner filed objections to the R&R bringing the case to its present posture.
Section 2254 confers jurisdiction on United States district courts to issue a "writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
In disposing of objections to a magistrate judge's R&R, the district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report against which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); see also Sullivan v. Cuyler, 723 F.2d 1077, 1085 (3d Cir. 1983). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 877 (3d Cir. 1987). The district court judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. Id.
In the instant case, the R&R discusses a section 2254 petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Such a petition may only raise issues that have been exhausted in the state court system. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). We cannot grant such a petition unless the adjudication of the claim in state court:
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the ...