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Parrish v. Wetzel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 28, 2015

MICHAEL JOHN PARRISH, Petitioner
v.
JOHN E. WETZEL, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; ROBERT GILMORE, Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Greene; and STEVEN GLUNT, Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, Respondents

MEMORANDUM

CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, CHIEF JUDGE

Presently pending before the court is petitioner Michael John Parrish’s motion to stay these federal proceedings to allow petitioner’s counsel to expeditiously exhaust federal claims for relief in state court. (Doc. 20.) Also before the court is petitioner’s motion to produce state court record (Doc. 15) and motion for leave to file his petition for writ of habeas corpus in excess of the page limitation (Doc. 17). For the reasons that follow, the motion to stay (Doc. 20) will be denied and this case will be dismissed without prejudice.

I. Background

This is a capital habeas corpus proceeding brought by a Pennsylvania state prisoner. Following his convictions for first degree murder and related counts, petitioner was sentenced to death on May 15, 2012, in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 21.) Petitioner’s convictions and sentence of death were affirmed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on September 25, 2013. See Commonwealth v. Parrish, 77 A.3d 557 (Pa. 2013), rearg. denied, No. 661 Cap. App. Dkt. (Pa. Nov. 27, 2013). His petition for certiorari review was denied by the United States Supreme Court on May 19, 2014. Parrish v. Pennsylvania, No. 13-9201, Order (U.S. May 19, 2014).

On May 20, 2014, petitioner filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of federal habeas corpus counsel. (Doc. 1.) The court granted the motion on June 3, 2014, and petitioner was directed to file a status report apprising the court of the procedural posture of petitioner’s state court proceedings and any other pertinent matters on or before November 19, 2014. (Doc. 9.) Petitioner filed his status report on November 19, 2014, informing the court that on August 29, 2014, petitioner filed an initial PCRA petition, an emergency motion for a stay of execution, and a motion to admit Jennifer Merrigan, Esquire to appear pro hac vice on his behalf in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas. (Doc. 11.) On September 4, 2014, the Monroe County court issued an order that: (1) granted petitioner leave to proceed in forma pauperis, (2) stayed petitioner’s execution through the conclusion of all PCRA proceedings, (3) appointed Brian Gaglione, Esquire, to represent petitioner in his PCRA proceedings, and (4) directed an amended PCRA petition be filed on or before November 10, 2014. (Id.)

By order dated December 12, 2014, this court directed petitioner to file a second status report apprising the court of the procedural posture of his state court proceedings and any other pertinent matters on or before February 17, 2015. (Doc. 12.) Petitioner filed that status report on February 17, 2015, informing the court of the status of his state court proceedings and requesting that the court enter an order directing counsel to file a federal habeas petition on behalf of petitioner. (Doc. 13.) Based on the information presented in petitioner’s second status report, the court issued an order directing petitioner to file a habeas petition on or before April 20, 2015. (Doc. 14.) That order also set forth a schedule for the remainder of these federal habeas proceedings. (Id.)

On April 20, 2015, petitioner filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 19.) Also on that day, petitioner filed the instant motion to stay these federal habeas proceedings to allow petitioner’s counsel to expeditiously exhaust federal claims in state court. (Doc. 20.) In the motion, petitioner informed the court, inter alia, that on February 17, 2015, petitioner, through newly-appointed PCRA counsel Robert Saurman, Esquire, filed an amended PCRA petition in the Monroe County court. (See Doc. 21.) In addition, petitioner’s PCRA hearing is currently scheduled in that court for June 1, 2015. (Id.)

II. Discussion

A. Statutory Framework

A district court is authorized to “entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the 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). A petition for writ of habeas corpus is the exclusive federal remedy for a state prisoner challenging the very fact or duration of his or her confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973).

A petitioner filing for relief under the federal Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), must generally comply with the exhaustion requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), before a federal court can consider the merits of his habeas corpus petition. Pursuant to § 2254(b)(1)(A), the petitioner must give the state courts an opportunity to review allegations of error before seeking relief in federal court. Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004). “An applicant shall not be deemed to have exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, within the meaning of this section, if he has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c); see also Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 518-19 (1982) (finding that before a federal court can adjudicate claims under habeas corpus, interests of comity and federalism dictate that the state courts must have the first opportunity to decide a petitioner’s claims).

AEDPA also establishes a one-year statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas corpus petition. 28 U.S.C. § 1154(d)(1); Wilson v. Beard, 426 F.3d 653, 659 (3d Cir. 2005). This one-year period runs from the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or when the time for seeking certiorari review expires. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A); Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525 (2003). The one-year limitations period is tolled, however, while a properly filed application for state post-conviction or other collateral review is pending. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2); see also Pace v. Diguglielmo, 544 U.S. 408 (2005).

Under Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act, a petitioner must file for PCRA relief within one year of the date the judgment becomes final. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 9545(b)(1). For purposes of the PCRA, a judgment becomes final at the conclusion of direct review, including discretionary review in the United States Supreme Court and the ...


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