United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY, United States District Judge
Jay Anderson (Petitioner), an inmate presently confined at
the Smithfield State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon,
Pennsylvania (SCI-Smithfield), filed the above captioned
habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Petitioner's request for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis will be granted for the purpose of the filing
of this action with this Court.
acknowledges that he entered a guilty plea to charges of
illegal use of a computer device; possession of child
pornography; and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with
a child in the Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania Court of
Common Pleas. On June 23, 2011, Petitioner states that he was
sentenced to a twelve and one half to thirty-three and a
quarter year term (12½ to 33 year, 3 month) of
instant petition does not challenge the legality of
Petitioner's guilty plea. Rather, Anderson's sole
claim for relief contends that the Pennsylvania state
sentencing court lacked the authority to impose the sentence
he is presently serving. Specifically, Petitioner asserts
that his sentence was did not comply with the requirements of
Pennsylvania's Sentencing Code because the written
sentencing order lacked statutory authorization because it
did not specifically reference the underlying criminal
corpus petitions are subject to summary dismissal pursuant to
Rule 4 ("Preliminary Review") of the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District
Courts, 28 U.S.C. foil. § 2254 (2004). See,
e.g., Mutope v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation
and Parole, 2007 WL 846559 *2 (M.D. Pa. March 19,
provides in pertinent part: "If it plainly appears from
the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is
not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must
dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the
petitioner." A petition may be dismissed without review
of an answer "when the petition is frivolous, or
obviously lacking in merit, or where. . . the necessary facts
can be determined from the petition itself. . . ."
Gorko v. Holt, 2005 WL 1138479 *1(M.D. Pa. May 13,
2005)(McClure, J.)(quoting Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d
134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970).
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
modified a federal habeas court's role in reviewing state
prisoner applications in order to prevent federal habeas
'retrials' and to ensure that state-court convictions
are given effect to the extent possible under law."
Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 693 (2002).
when a federal-law issue has been adjudicated on the merits
by a state court, the federal court reverses only when the
decision was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the United States Supreme Court. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d)(1). See generally,
Knowles v. Mirzavance, __ U.S. __, 2009 WL 746274 *3
(March 24, 2009); Gattis v. Snyder, 278 F.3d 222,
234 (3d Cir. 2002); Moore v. Morton, 255 F.3d 95,
104-05 (3d Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has held that the
"contrary to" and "unreasonable
application" clauses of § 2254(d)(1) have
independent meaning. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S.
362, 404-405 (2000). As explained in Bell, 535 U.S.
A federal habeas court may issue the writ under the
'contrary to' clause if the state court applies a
rule different from the governing law set forth in our cases,
or if it decides a case differently than we have done on a
set of materially indistinguishable facts. . . . The court
may grant relief under the 'unreasonable application'
clause if the state court correctly identifies the governing
legal principle from our decisions but unreasonably applies
it to the facts of the particular case. . . . The focus of
the latter inquiry is on whether the state court's
application of clearly established federal law is objectively
unreasonable . . .
resolution of factual issues by the state courts are presumed
to be correct unless the petitioner shows by clear and
convincing evidence that they are not. 28 U.S.C. §
summary, the appropriate inquiry for federal district courts
in reviewing the merits of Section 2254 petitions is whether
the state court decisions applied a rule different from the
governing law set forth in United States Supreme Court cases,
decided the case before them differently than the Supreme
Court has done on a set of materially indistinguishable
facts, or unreasonably applied Supreme Court governing
principles to the facts of the particular case. See
Keller v. Larkins, 251 F.3d 408, 417-18 (3d Cir. 2001)
(a district court entertaining a § 2254 action must
first address whether the state court decision was contrary
to Supreme Court precedent); Martini v. Hendricks,
188 F.Supp.2d 505, 510 (D. N.J. 2002) (a § 2254
applicant must show that the state court decision was based
on an unreasonable determination of facts in light of
evidence presented in the state court proceeding). Findings
of fact by the state courts are presumed to be correct unless
the petitioner shows by clear and convincing evidence that
they are not. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (e) (1) .
discussed above, Petitioner claims entitlement to federal
habeas corpus relief on the grounds that the sentencing court
imposed an illegal sentence because the written sentencing
order failed to cite the criminal statutes underlying the
sentences being imposed. Anderson's claim does not
implicate the laws or the Constitution of the United States.
A violation of state law by itself is an insufficient basis
for federal habeas corpus relief. See Engle v.
Issac, 456 U.S. 107, 119 (1982). Since there is no
argument by Petitioner that the sentence was outside of the
applicable statutory limits, based upon arbitrary
considerations or imposed in ...