United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
William W. Caldwell United States District Judge
before the court is the report (Doc. 3) of Chief Magistrate
Judge Susan E. Schwab recommending dismissal of a Section
2254 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. 1). The
petition was filed on behalf of Petitioner Richard Alvin
Vaughn (“Vaughn”) by Joshua A. Monighan
(“Monighan”), who claims to have power of
attorney for Vaughn. (Id. at 1, 14). The named
respondents are the Franklin County Jail and the Attorney
General of the State of Pennsylvania. (Id. at 1).
Judge Schwab recommended that the instant petition for habeas
corpus be dismissed. (Doc. 3 at 10). For the following
reasons, the court agrees and will dismiss Vaughn's
December 16, 2016, Monighan filed a “Petition Under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in
State Custody.” (Doc. 1). The petition was filed on
behalf of Vaughn, who Monighan claimed was
“incommunicado” and in “solitary”
with “limited access/resources &
information.” (Id. at 14). Monighan also
claims that he has “power of attorney” for
Vaughn, but provided no evidence or documentation to support
this assertion. (Id. at 1, 14).
habeas petition and attached declaration are difficult to
decipher. It appears that the habeas claim concerns both a
1999 state court conviction and judgment, as well as a
pending 2016 state court criminal case that has yet to go to
trial. Judge Schwab took judicial notice of the Court of
Common Pleas of Franklin County docket sheet for Vaughn and
determined that the pending 2016 charges include corruption
of minors, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault of
a person less than 16 years of age, and criminal attempt of
indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age. (Doc.
3 at 2 (citing Commonwealth v. Vaughn, No.
CP-28-CR-0001395-2016 (Ct. Com. Pl. Franklin Cty. 2016))).
Judge Schwab also noted that, at the time of her report,
trial in the 2016 criminal matter was scheduled for the March
2017 trial term. (Id.)
Schwab performed a thorough interpretation and analysis of
the habeas petition and its attachments. In her report, she
determined that, while the petition raised a number of
disjointed and underdeveloped claims-claims that include
issues regarding the 2016 warrant, the assistant district
attorney's competency, Miranda warnings,
inadequate medical treatment, denial of access to the courts,
improper waiver of arraignment, insufficient law library
access, unfair bail determinations, discrimination, and Sixth
Amendment counsel rights-Petitioner's habeas claim
primarily focused on the 2016 detention and asserted that
Vaughn was wrongfully imprisoned. (Doc. 3 at 3-4).
because the 2016 criminal case was still in the pretrial
stages, Judge Schwab construed the § 2254 habeas
petition as a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2241. (Id. at 5-6). She then
recommended dismissing the § 2241 petition due to
failure to exhaust state remedies and lack of extraordinary
circumstances that would excuse the failure to exhaust.
(Id. at 6-9).
again acting on behalf of Vaughn, filed objections (Doc. 5)
to the report and recommendation, which are even more
difficult to understand than the initial habeas petition.
Among the numerous objections listed, the substantive
objections Monighan seems to assert are that (1) Judge Schwab
incorrectly ignored the independent habeas claims raised
regarding the 1999 conviction, (id. at 1, 5); (2)
Monighan has a right to file the instant habeas petition on
Vaughn's behalf not only because he has a power of
attorney for Vaughn, but also because he has
“Taxpayer” standing, (id. at 5, 8); and
(3) Monighan should have the right to subpoena documents and
video from Franklin County in support of the instant
petition, (id. at 4, 5, 11, 14).
Standard of Review
party objects to a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, the district court must review de
novo the contested portions of the report. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C); M.D. Pa. Local Rule 72.3. Uncontested
portions of the report are reviewed for “clear error on
the face of the record.” Clouser v. Johnson,
40 F.Supp.3d 425, 430 (M.D. Pa. 2014) (quoting Cruz v.
Chater, 990 F.Supp. 375, 375-78 (M.D. Pa. 1998) (quoting
1983 Advisory Committee Notes to Federal Rule of Civil
of what habeas claims Monighan is actually attempting to
assert on behalf of Vaughn, and regardless of whether the
appropriate habeas procedural vehicle is § 2254 or
§ 2241, the instant petition must be dismissed. It is
plainly apparent from the face of the petition that Monighan
does not have standing to file a habeas petition on
Vaughn's behalf, and therefore this court lacks the power
to entertain the petition or grant habeas relief.
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254,
“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.” Without requiring an answer from the
respondent, the court is “authorized to dismiss
summarily any habeas petition that appears legally
insufficient on its ...