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Reeves v. Coleman

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 22, 2016

JERRY REEVES, Petitioner

          SCHWAB, M. J.


          MALACHY E. MANNION, United States District Judge

         Petitioner, Jerry Reeves, an inmate confined in the Smithfield State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, filed, through counsel, a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254 which was superseded by an amended petition. (Doc. 1, Doc. H). Petitioner attacks his 2010 second-degree murder conviction and life sentence without parole imposed by the Court of Common Pleas for Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. By Report and Recommendation dated October 17, 2016, Magistrate Judge Schwab recommended that petitioner Reeves' petition for writ of habeas corpus be dismissed as untimely. She determined that petitioner did not identify any possible basis for equitable tolling and that he failed to meet the requirements of a claim of actual innocence. (Doc. 38).

         On November 7, 2016, petitioner filed objections to Judge Schwab's report with a brief in support attached. (Doc. 40, Doc. 40-1). To overcome AEDPA's statute of limitations, petitioner alleges newly discovered evidence of actual innocence and he claims that Judge Schwab "failed to analyze his actual innocence in light of all the evidence, old and new." Petitioner relies, in part, on McQuiggin v. Perkins, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1924 (2013) (Supreme Court "[held] that actual innocence, if proved, serves as a gateway through which a petitioner may pass whether the impediment is a procedural bar.[ ], or, [ ], expiration of the statute of limitations.").

         For the reasons discussed below, the court will ADOPT Judge Schwab's report and OVERRULE petitioner's objections since petitioner fails to meet the threshold requirements that his evidence is in fact "new" and by convincing the court that "in light of the new evidence, no juror, acting reasonably, would have voted to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 1928 (citations omitted).


         When objections are timely filed to the report and recommendation of a magistrate judge, the district court must review de novo those portions of the report to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1): Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 193.195 (3d Cir. 2011). Although the standard is de novo, the extent of review is committed to the sound discretion of the district judge, and the court may rely on the recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it deems proper. Rieder v. Apfel. 115 F.Supp.2d 496. 499 (M.D.Pa. 2000) (citing United States v. Raddatz. 447 U.S. 667. 676 (1980)).

         For those sections of the report and recommendation to which no objection is made, the court should, as a matter of good practice, "satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b), advisory committee notes; see also Univac Dental Co. v. Dentsplv Intern., inc.. 702 F.Supp.2d 465.469 (M.D.Pa. 2010) (citing Henderson v. Carlson. 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir. 1987) (explaining that judges should give some review to every report and recommendation)). Nevertheless, whether timely objections are made or not, the district court may accept, not accept, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C. 3636(b)(1): Local Rule 72.31.


         Since Judge Schwab stated the complete procedural and factual history of this case, (Doc. 38, at 2-19), and since the petitioner did not object to it, the court will not repeat it herein and it will be adopted. See Butterfield v. Astrue, 2010 WL 4027768, *3 (E.D.Pa. Oct. 14, 2010) ("To obtain de novo determination of a magistrate[] [judge's] findings by a district court, 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) requires both timely and specific objections to the report.") (quoting Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6 (3d Cir.1984)). The court will briefly address the background and restrict its discussion below to the relevant background as it pertains to the petitioner's objections. The facts of this case are also thoroughly discussed in the amended petition as well as the briefs of the parties and, the history is substantiated by the exhibits. (Doc. H, Doc. 15, Doc. 34. Doc. 34-1. Doc. 35).

         Following a jury trial which concluded on June 23, 2010, petitioner was found guilty in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, of murder of the second-degree, robbery-inflict serious bodily injury and, firearms not to be carried without a license in relation to an armed robbery on May 25, 2006. On the same date, Reeves was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

         Reeves did not file any post-sentence motions with the Dauphin County Court.

         On July 22, 2010, Reeves filed a timely Notice of Appeal of his judgment of sentence to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. On July 1, 2011, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed Reeves' judgment of sentence. Reeves did not file a petition for allowance of appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Thus, on July 31, 2011, Reeves' judgment of sentence became final.

         From July 31, 2011 through July 29, 2012, Reeves did not have any properly filed appeal pending with any state court. On July 30, 2012, petitioner filed a petition for relief under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa.C.S.A. SS9541. et seq., with the Dauphin County Court. On November 26, 2012, the Dauphin County Court, sitting as the PCRA court, dismissed Reeves' PCRA petition without an evidentiary hearing.

         On December 7, 2012, Reeves filed a notice of appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court regarding the dismissal of his PCRA petition. On November 7, 2013, the Superior Court affirmed the Dauphin County Court's order dismissing Reeves' PCRA petition.

         Reeves then filed a petition for allowance of appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regarding the dismissal of his PCRA ...

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