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Webb v. Gavin

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 14, 2015

BRADLEY W. WEBB, Petitioner,
v.
WAYNE GAVIN, et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

The petitioner in this case, Bradley Webb, is a convicted murderer, and a repeat offender. In this petition Webb belatedly challenges a 2009 Parole Board determination which extended his maximum release date to July 2015. This Parole Board action followed a series of parole violations by Webb, including violations that involved the commission of new crimes while on parole.

For the reasons set forth below, this petition will be denied.

The facts of this case can be simply stated: In 1995 Webb was charged in Chester County, Pennsylvania with murder. (Doc. 18-1, Ex. 1.) Webb pleaded guilty to a charge of third degree murder on March 11, 1997, and received a 7-to-14 year jail sentence. (Id.) Under the terms of this sentence, the minimum expiration date for this sentence was August 2002. (Id.) In fact, on September 30, 2002, Webb was released on parole from this 7-to-14 year sentence. At that time, an initial maximum sentence date of August 3, 2009, was set by the Parole Board for Webb. (Id.)

What then followed was a decade of intermittent parole supervision for Webb, supervision marked by repeated violations and parole revocations. Thus, on March 31, 2004, the Parole Board entered a decision detaining Webb pending disposition of new criminal charges lodged against him, and recommitted Webb as a technical parole violator for violating conditions of this parole. ( Id., Ex. 2.) Ten months later, on January 5, 2005, the Board recommitted Webb to custody as a convicted parole violator after he was convicted of a crime that he committed while on parole. ( Id., Ex. 3.) Consistent with what were then the provisions of state law, Webb also lost credit for the time he had spent on parole before committing this new offense. Therefore, the January 5, 2005, Parole Board decision re-calculated Webb's parole violation maximum date, extending that date to June 15, 2011. ( Id., Ex. 3.)

Six months later, on July 5, 2005, Webb was released on parole for a second time. At this time, Webb's parole violation maximum release date remained June 15, 2011. ( Id., Ex. 4.) Four years later, while on parole, on October 30, 2009, the Board ordered Webb recommitted as a convicted parole violator after he was convicted of two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and other related offenses, crimes that he had once again committed while on parole. ( Id., Ex. 5.) As was the case with his prior revocation, on this occasion Webb also lost credit for the time he had spent on parole before committing this new offense. As a result, the October 30, 2009, Parole Board decision extended Webb's parole violation maximum sentence date to July 29, 2015. ( Id., Ex. 5.)

This October 30, 2009, Parole Board decision advised Webb of his appeal rights. (Id.) However, Webb did not choose to challenge the October 30, 2009, decision, either through the Board's administrative appeal process or in a Pennsylvania court. What then followed were a series of discretionary decisions by the Parole Board over the next several years, denying Webb early release on parole on June 29, 2010, ( Id., Ex. 6); and December 21, 2010. ( Id., Ex. 7.) None of these decisions affected the July 29, 2015, maximum release date set by the Board for Webb in 2009, a maximum release date which Webb had never challenged.

On March 12, 2012, Webb was released on parole for a third time. At this time Webb's parole violation maximum date remained the date set by the Board in 2009, July 29, 2015. ( Id., Ex. 8.) Five months later, on August 31, 2012, the Board recommitted Webb as a technical parole violator, after he violated the conditions of his parole. ( Id., Ex. 9.) Webb was then refused parole on May 31, 2013. ( Id., Ex. 10.) It was only at this time, some four years after-the-fact, that Webb began making halting and procedurally improper efforts to challenge the maximum release date set in his case in 2009. These efforts began on August 7, 2013, when the Board received a copy of a letter Webb wrote to a state senator, which appeared to challenge the July 29, 2015, maximum date established in the Board's October 30, 2009, decision. ( Id., Ex. 11.) On December 3, 2013, the Parole Board advised Webb that any attempt to challenge the parole violation maximum date was now untimely. ( Id., Ex. 12.) Webb did not appeal the December 3, 2013, Parole Board determination through the avenues prescribed by state law by filing a petition for review in the appellate jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Instead, on June 9, 2014, Webb filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, followed on June 30, 2014, by an application for leave to proceed in that court's original jurisdiction. ( Id., Ex. 13.). On September 12, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the application for leave to file in its original jurisdiction but denied Webb's petition for writ of habeas corpus. ( Id., Ex. 13.)

Webb then filed this federal habeas corpus petition on January 29, 2015. (Doc. 1.) Webb's petition has been fully briefed by the parties, (Docs. 1 and 18.), and is, therefore, ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be denied.

III. Discussion

A. State Prisoner Habeas Relief-The Legal Standard

A state prisoner seeking to invoke the power of this Court to issue a writ of habeas corpus must satisfy the standards prescribed by Title 28, United States Code, Section 2254, which provides in part as follows:

(a) The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall 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.
(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that-
(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State;...
(2) An application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies available in the courts of the State.

28 U.S.C. ยง 2254 (a) and (b).

1. Substantive Standards Governing Section ...


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