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Woodruff v. Williams
United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
February 15, 2017
METTA WOODRUFF, Petitioner,
R. SETH WILLIAMS, et al. Respondents.
WILLIAM DITTER, JR., J.
consideration of the petition for a writ of habeas
corpus, the Commonwealth's Response, the Report and
Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge David R.
Strawbridge, Petitioner's objections, and de
novo review of the record, I make the following findings
and reach the following conclusions:
1. Petitioner Metta Woodruff filed a pro se petition
for writ of habeas corpus on February 24, 2014,
attacking her 2007 conviction for aggravated assault,
recklessly endangering another person, and possession of an
instrument of crime. On November 30, 2016, Judge Strawbridge
issued a Report and Recommendation concluding that
Petitioner's petition should be denied because her claims
were meritless. Petitioner has filed objections arguing
that Judge Strawbridge erred in analyzing her claims that the
verdict was against the weight of the evidence and that she
is serving an illegal sentence pursuant to Alleyne v.
United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013).
2. Petitioner first argues that Judge Strawbridge erred in
concluding that her weight of the evidence claim did not
merit federal habeas relief. More specifically, she
contends that the Pennsylvania Superior Court did not have
authority to rule on a “weight of the evidence”
issue because members of the appellate court were not present
at trial. As Judge Strawbridge properly determined, however,
it is well established that a federal habeas court
has no power to grant habeas corpus relief because
it finds that a state conviction is against the
“weight” of the evidence. See Tibbs v.
Florida, 457 U.S. 31, 42-45 (1982). Petitioner's
weight of the evidence claim is not cognizable on federal
3. Petitioner next argues that Judge Strawbridge erred in
concluding that Alleyne, supra, did not
apply to her sentence. In Alleyne, the United States
Supreme Court held that any fact that increases the mandatory
minimum sentence for a crime is an “element” of
that crime, not a “sentencing factor, ” and thus
must be submitted to a jury. Petitioner's conviction
became final on direct appeal in 2010. Alleyne was
decided in 2013 while Petitioner's collateral appeal, a
properly filed PCRA petition, was pending in state court. The
Third Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that
Alleyne's new rule of law does not apply
retroactively to cases on collateral review. United
States v. Reyes, 755 F.3d 210, 212 (3d Cir. 2014). Thus,
Alleyne does not provide Petitioner with any basis
for federal habeas relief.
4. Judge Strawbridge's proposed findings are amply
supported by the record.
he has carefully and accurately applied the law. As a result,
I will adopt and approve the report and recommendations of
the learned magistrate judge.
I HEREBY ORDER that:
1. Petitioner's objections to the Report and
Recommendation are OVERRULED.
2. The Report and Recommendation is APPROVED and ADOPTED.
3. The petition for a writ of habeas corpus is
DENIED WITH PREJUDICE.
4. There is no probable cause to issue a certificate of
5. The Clerk of Court shall mark this case closed for
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