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Marti v. Kerestes

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 10, 2015

RAFAEL MARTI, Petitioner
JOHN KERESTES, Respondents


JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Petitioner Rafael Marti ("Marti"), a Pennsylvania state inmate presently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Frackville, initiated this action on January 27, 2014, with the filing of a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254. (Doc. 1). He challenges the Judgment of Sentence entered on September 29, 2009, in Court of Common Pleas of York County Criminal case numbers CP-67-CR-0000736-2008 and CP-67-CR-0002818-2008. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.

I. Background

In 2007, Marti and his girlfriend were arrested after large amounts of cocaine and marijuana were discovered at Marti's residence. (Doc. 41-1, p. 175). "On December 17, 2008, [Marti] completed a written plea colloquy and discussed it with his counsel. N.T. Guilty Plea, 12/17/08, at 4. On the same day, [Marti's] girlfriend pleaded guilty to misdemeanors - not felonies - and was sentenced to twelve months probation." (Id. at 283).

On December 26, 2008, Marti filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. (Id.) The following exchange transpired at the January 20, 2009 hearing:

[Appellant's counsel]: Your Honor, at the time of the plea, Your Honor, immediately following my client was very dissatisfied with the fact that he had pled. He did not want to, but he felt that he was in essence forced into it. He didn't have enough time to consider all of his options.
Prior to the plea, and I was speaking with the [assistant district attorney, I] advised [Appellant] that I did not think it was wise for him to plead, but he decided at that point [to] do so. Immediately proceeding [sic], Your Honor, he was indicating to me that he didn't do some of the offenses listed, and that he wished to have a trial. I indicated to him that our only other option at that point was to file a motion to withdraw our plea and leave it up to the discretion of the Court. That's why we are here today, Your Honor, and we are asking that he be allowed a jury trial.
The Court: There was no plea agreement?
[Appellant's counsel]: There was no plea agreement, however, he did receive some consideration, Your Honor, in two points, and in the motion issue No. 9 the last sentence, [Appellant] does state that part of the reason he pled was so the Commonwealth would be lenient on the co-defendant girlfriend/wife. That did happen. She did receive or plea to misdemeanor as opposed to felonies and received probation. Second part of the leniency is, Your Honor, in regard to 736 of '08, he plead [sic] guilty to Count I, delivery of cocaine. In exchange for that, the Commonwealth did agree not to file the mandatory on that charge, and the Commonwealth has not done so.
* * *
The Court: Okay. Sir, obviously if you are innocent, you didn't do this, you go to trial. That's the end of the discussion. However, if you did, you should be aware that the plea agreement that was reached semi sort of a plea agreement you would lose the benefit of it.
[Appellant]: I understand.
The Court: And at this point if you go to trial and as a result of the Judge [sic] hearing, and it won't be me, by the way, this will be going back I guess to Judge Snyder.
* * *
The Court: [Judge Snyder] would decide what the appropriate sentence was, but it's been my experience that somebody that enters a guilty plea gets a benefit out of accepting responsibility plus the Judge doesn't hear all the details, the dirty details. When he has a trial, he sits there and listens to everything in detail, while plea it is just a summary presentation, and it's [sic] been my experience that you end up getting more time under those circumstances occasionally, not always, but sometimes. In addition, you also lose the benefit of the plea agreement for girlfriend.
[Commonwealth]: Girlfriend or wife.
The Court: In any event, the Commonwealth would be permitted to have her sentence and plea vacated, and she would again face the original charges she faced, and she would potentially go to jail for the maximum sentence on whatever her charges were.
[Appellant's Counsel]: Your Honor, it is my understanding that she had already been sentenced.
The Court: Doesn't matter. If agreement was that she got sentenced on the basis of his plea and he withdraws his plea, then she is back to where she was. If you want to-
[Appellant's counsel]: Let me -
The Court: You can't have the benefit of that and withdraw your plea.
[Appellant's counsel]: Your Honor, after conferring with [Appellant], even though he is reluctant, he understands that he doesn't want his significant other to be tried again or for her sentence to be vacated. So at this point, Your Honor, we will be withdrawing our motion.
The Court: Okay. And do you want to finalize the case today and have the sentence by the agreement that the Commonwealth offered, or do you want to continue to have the possibility that go higher or lower?

(Doc. 41-1 at 284-86, citing N.T. Mot. To Withdraw Plea, 1/20/09, at 1-5). In response, counsel indicated that he needed to further confer with his client. (Id. at 286). The motion to withdraw the plea was ...

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