United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.
Leroy Wiggins, also known as Sterling Chavis
("Petitioner"), brings this pro se
petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254 ("the Petition") challenging a decision of the
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Control ("the
Pennsylvania Board") extending the end date for his
parole following his incarceration on unrelated charges in
New Jersey. Petitioner argues that the Pennsylvania Board
calculated his sentence incorrectly, and that the extension
constituted "piecemeal incarceration" in violation
of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Magistrate Judge
Henry S. Perkin recommended that the Court dismiss the
Petition on the basis that it constituted a second or
successive habeas petition filed without permission of the
Third Circuit. Petitioner objected.
reasons that follow, the Court will overrule Petitioner's
objections, dismiss the Petition - although on different
grounds than it was dismissed by Judge Perkin - and deny
Petitioner habeas relief.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 22, 1982, the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia
County sentenced Petitioner to a term of three and one-half
to twenty years' incarceration for convictions of
robbery, impersonating a public servant, carrying a firearm
on a public street, criminal conspiracy, simple assault,
aggravated assault, theft by unlawful taking, receiving
stolen property, and recklessly endangering another person.
Report & Recommendation ("R&R") at 1-2, ECF
No. 10. Petitioner's original maximum parole violation
date for this sentence was June 18, 2001. Chavis v. Pa.
Bd. of Probation & Parole, No. 544 CD. 2012, 2012 WL
8678119, at *1 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Oct. 9, 2012).
February 9, 1995, following Petitioner's parole from his
Pennsylvania sentence and subsequent periods of incarceration
in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department
of Corrections ("the Pennsylvania DOC") transferred
Petitioner to New Jersey to serve a sentence for a new,
unrelated criminal conviction. Id. at *1. New Jersey
returned Petitioner to the Pennsylvania DOC's custody on
June 22, 2009, on the basis of a detainer that the
Pennsylvania Board issued against him. Id. On June
15, 2011, the Pennsylvania Board recalculated
Petitioner's parole maximum date to July 25, 2023,
determining that Petitioner would not receive credit for the
time he spent incarcerated in New Jersey. Id.
13, 2011, Petitioner filed a petition for administrative
review of the Pennsylvania Board's recalculation
decision, claiming that he should have received credit for
his incarceration in New Jersey from February 9, 1995,
through June 22, 2009. ECF No. 1 at 39. The Board denied this
petition. Id. at 40. Petitioner subsequently
petitioned for review of this denial in the Commonwealth
Court of Pennsylvania, which affirmed the Pennsylvania
Board's order on October 9, 2012. Chavis, 2012
WL 8678119, at *2. Petitioner then filed a Petition for
Allowance of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,
which denied the petition in a per curiam order on May 20,
2013. Chavis v. Pa. Bd. of Probation & Parole,
68 A.3d 910 (Pa. 2013).
Petitioner's seventh federal habeas petition. Petitioner
filed six previous federal habeas petitions under his alias,
Sterling Chavis, in 1983, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2002, and 2005,
all of which were dismissed. See Chavis v. Ryan, No.
83- 5066 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 1984) (dismissed for failure to
exhaust state remedies); Chavis v. Neubert, No.
86-2855 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 20, 1986) (denied on the merits);
Chavis v. Vaughn, No. 93-3571 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 7,
1993) (summarily dismissed under Rule 9(b) because alleged
claims were previously determined on the merits); Chavis
v. Pinchak, No. 96-0008 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 20, 1996)
(dismissed as successive and an abuse of the writ);
Chavis v. Pa. Bd. of Probation & Parole, No.
02-4694 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 5, 2002) (dismissed without prejudice
for failure to reply to Court order directing filing of
petition on current habeas form); Chavis v. Pa. Bd. of
Probation & Parole, No. 05-4502 (E.D. Pa. July 31,
2006) (dismissed with prejudice as untimely filed).
filed the instant Petition on June 30, 2015, in the United
States District Court for the District of New Jersey, which
subsequently transferred it to this Court. See ECF
No. 1. Petitioner seeks review of the Pennsylvania
Board's July 13, 2011, recalculation decision, asserting
that: (1) "Respondents subjected Petitioner to
'[p]iecemeal [i]ncarceration' by extending his
maximum date [of incarceration] by more than 20 years [beyond
the date initially fixed by his Pennsylvania] sentencing
court"; and (2) "Respondents subjected Petitioner
to 'piecemeal incarceration' in contravention of the
Interstate Agreement Detainers Act ("IAD")."
See Pet. at 6, 8, ECF No. 1.
31, 2015, this Court referred the case to Magistrate Judge
Henry S. Perkin. ECF No. 3. The Commonwealth filed a response
to the Petition on February 10, 2016, arguing that the Court
lacks jurisdiction to consider the Petition because the
Petition constitutes a "second or successive"
petition that Petitioner failed to receive authorization from
the Third Circuit to file. See Commonwealth's
Response, at 3-4, ECF No. 9.
Perkin issued a Report and Recommendation on February 25,
2016. ECF No. 10. Petitioner requested and received an
extension of his time to file objections to the Report and
Recommendation, see ECF No. 17 at n.l, and
subsequently timely filed his objections on April 27, 2016,
ECF No. 16. Petitioner also filed supplemental objections on
May 18, 2016. ECF No. 18. The Petition is now ripe for
district court may refer an application for a writ of habeas
corpus to a United States magistrate judge for a report and
recommendation. See Rules Governing § 2254
Cases, R. 10 ("A magistrate judge may perform the duties
of a district judge under these rules, as authorized under 28
U.S.C. § 636."). A prisoner may object to the
magistrate judge's report and recommendation within
fourteen days after being served with a copy thereof.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); E.D. Pa. Civ. R.
72.1(IV)(b). The district court then "make[s] a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.". 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court
does not, however, review generalized objections. See
Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011)
("We have provided that § 636(b)(1) requires
district courts to review such objections de novo unless the
objection is not timely or not specific." (quoting
Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984)).
Ultimately, the district court "may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations
made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. §
habeas review, a federal court must determine whether the
state court's adjudication of the claims raised was (1)
contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly
established federal law, or (2) based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence
presented. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). A state court decision
is "contrary to" established precedent when the
state court "applies a rule that contradicts the
governing law set forth in [Supreme Court] cases" or
"if the state court confronts a set of facts that are
materially indistinguishable from a decision of [the Supreme]
Court and nevertheless arrives at a different result from
[Supreme Court] precedent." Lockyer v. Andrade,
538 U.S. 63, 73 (2003) (quoting Williams v. Taylor,
529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000)). A state court decision involves
an "unreasonable application" of established
precedent when the "state court identifies the correct
governing principle . . . but unreasonably applies that
principle to the facts of the prisoner's case."
Id. at 75.
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
("AEDPA"), on habeas review, a federal court must
presume that factual findings of state trial and appellate
courts are correct. Stevens v. Del. Corr. Ctr., 295
F.3d 361, 368 (3d Cir. 2002). Petitioner may overcome this
presumption only on the basis of clear and convincing
evidence to the contrary. See Burt v. Titlow, 134
S.Ct. 10, 16 (2013) ("AEDPA requires 'a state
prisoner [to] show that the state court's ruling on the
claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in
justification that there was an error . . . beyond any
possibility for fairminded disagreement.' 'If this
standard is difficult to meet'--and it is--'that is
because it was meant to be.'" (alterations in
original) (quoting Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S.
86, 102, 103 (2011))); see also Stevens, 295 F.3d at
considering a prisoner's pro se petition, a
federal court should bear in mind that "[a] habeas
corpus petition prepared by a prisoner without legal
assistance may not be skillfully drawn and thus should be
read generously." Rainey v. Varner, 603 F.3d
189, 198 (3d Cir. 2010); see also U.S. ex rel. Montgomery
v. Brierley, 414 F.2d 552, 555 (3d Cir. 1969) ("It