United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge.
pro se habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 was filed by Myles White, an inmate presently
confined at the Rockview State Correctional Institution,
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, (SCI-Rockview). Service of the
petition was previously ordered.
and Ralph Maldonado were charged on March 26, 2009 with
criminal homicide, conspiracy, and robbery in relation to the
robbery and murder of Blake Natal. Trial was originally
scheduled for September 9, 2009 in the Court of Common Pleas
of Monroe County, Pennsylvania. However, Petitioner's
attorney filed a motion to sever his trial from that of
co-defendant Maldonado on August 25, 2009. The motion was
then withdrawn on October 13, 2009. On January 8, 2010,
Petitioner's counsel filed a motion for continuance of
trial which was granted on January 12, 2010 and trial was
rescheduled for March 2010. As a result of a motion filed by
Petitioner's co-defendant, the scheduling of trial was
further delayed from the March 2010 trial term until June 3,
1, 2010, White entered a guilty plea to a charge of third
degree murder. He was sentenced to a fifteen (15) to thirty
(30) year term of imprisonment that day. Petitioner filed a
direct appeal contending that his guilty plea was not
voluntary and trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
explain the element of intent and for failing to oppose the
Commonwealth's use of inflammatory statements.
See Doc. 8-12, p. 4. He also challenged the
discretionary aspects of his sentence. The Superior Court of
Pennsylvania denied relief on June 19, 2012.
subsequently sought relief via an action pursuant to
Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act
(PCRA). White was appointed counsel and
subsequently filed an amended petition. The amended petition
asserted that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
file a motion under Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure
600 and that the guilty plea was not voluntary because
Petitioner expressed doubt as to whether he acted with the
intent necessary for a third degree murder charge. A PCRA
hearing was conducted by the trial court on July 29, 2013.
The PCRA petition was denied by the trial court on October
15, 2013. The Superior Court subsequently affirmed that
decision on August 29, 2014. A petition for allowance of
appeal was denied by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on
April 24, 2015.
One of Petitioner's pending action claims entitlement to
federal habeas corpus relief on the basis that his state
court proceedings violated his constitutional due process,
equal protection, and fundamental fairness rights because the
state courts improperly calculated his speedy trial deadline
under Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure
See Doc. 1, ¶ 12. Ground Two asserts that
White's trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by
neglecting to inform him that he had a viable argument that
the Commonwealth had violated his right to a speedy trial
under Rule 600.
seeks dismissal of the petition on the basis that Ground One
has not been exhausted and both of White's arguments are
meritless. See Doc. 8, pp.10-1 6.
initially asserts Petitioner's Ground One claims are
either unexhausted or procedurally defaulted and as such
should not be entertained by this Court. The Respondent notes
that the petition acknowledges that Ground One was not
previously raised via either direct appeal or in White's
PCRA action. See Doc. 8, p. 2.
28 United States Code Section 2254(b)(1) provides that an
application for a writ of habeas corpus filed on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court
shall not be granted unless the applicant has exhausted the
remedies available in the courts of the State; or there is an
absence of available state corrective process; or there are
existing circumstances which render the state process
ineffective. The exhaustion requirement is not a mere
formality. It serves the interests of comity between the
federal and state systems, by allowing the state an initial
opportunity to determine and correct any violations of a
prisoner's federal rights. Crews v. Horn, 360
F.3d 146, 151 (3d Cir. 2004).
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has
stated that “[U]nder 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c), such a
petitioner ‘shall not be deemed to have exhausted the
remedies available in the courts of the State ... if he has
the right under the law of the State to raise, by any
available procedure, the question presented.' ”
Wenger v. Frank, 266 F.3d 218, 223-24 (3d Cir.
state prisoner is generally barred from obtaining federal
habeas relief unless the prisoner has properly presented his
or her claims through one ‘complete round of the
State's established appellate review process.'
” Woodford v. Ngo,548 U.S. 81, 92 (2006)
(internal citations omitted); O'Sullivan v.
Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844-45 (1999)(while exhaustion
does not require state prisoners to invoke extraordinary
remedies, the state courts must be afforded one full
opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues via
completion of the State's established appellate review
process). The United States Supreme Court in
O'Sullivan explained, that state prisoners must
“file petitions for discretionary review when that
review is part of the ordinary appellate review procedure in
the State.” Id. at 847. The United States
Supreme Court added that, in determining whether a state
prisoner has preserved an issue for presentation in a ...