United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO United States District Judge
Martin, an inmate presently confined at the Somerset State
Correctional Institution, Somerset, Pennsylvania
(SCI-Somerset), filed this pro se habeas corpus
petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Named as
Respondents are Superintendent Trevor Wingard and the
Pennsylvania Attorney General. The required filing fee has been
paid. On June 28, 2017, Petitioner filed a motion to stay
this action so that he can seek collateral relief via an
action filed pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post Conviction
Relief Act (“PCRA”) in a Common Pleas Court in
Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 6.) Petitioner notes that he has not
yet filed the PCRA but will notify this Court upon its final
to the petition, Martin was convicted of indecent assault,
involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors,
and unlawful contact with a minor. (Id.) He states
that he was sentenced on February 27, 2013 to an 8 year to 20
year term of imprisonment. Martin provides that he did not
file a direct appeal to these convictions but filed a PCRA
alleging ineffective assistance of counsel on March 27, 2014.
(Id.) Martin indicates that the Court of Common
Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
“affirmed” his conviction on August 22, 2014.
(Id.) Petitioner provides he petitioned the Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania on April 3, 2017, but his petition was
denied on May 31, 2017. (Id.)
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. Rather, 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.
United States Supreme Court, noting that a total exhaustion
rule “does not unreasonably impair the prisoner's
right to relief, ” has recognized that if a habeas
corpus petition containing both exhausted and unexhausted
claims is presented, then the entire petition must be
dismissed. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 522 (1982).
However, “a petition containing unexhausted but
procedurally barred claims in addition to exhausted claims is
not a mixed petition requiring dismissal under
Rose.” Toulson v. Beyer, 987 F.2d
984, 987 (3d Cir. 1993); see also Castille v.
Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 351 (1989).
discussed above, federal habeas corpus relief may not be
granted on a mixed petition. However, in both Rhines v.
Weber, 544 U.S. 269 (2005) and Crews v. Horn,
360 F.3d 146 (3d Cir. 2004), a § 2254 petitioner filed a
timely but mixed federal habeas corpus petition. Both
Rhines and Crews addressed arguments that
federal habeas petitions should be held in abeyance while
unexhausted claims were exhausted in state court because
those claims might be time barred upon returning to federal
court due to the time limitations imposed by 28 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(1). Rhines recognized that under such
“limited circumstances” district courts have
discretion to stay a mixed § 2254 federal habeas corpus
petition so that the petitioner can pursue review of his
unexhausted claims in state court. Rhines, 544 U.S.
at 277. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit in Crews similarly recognized that in order
to avoid an unfair result, “when an outright dismissal
could jeopardize the timeliness of a collateral attack, a
stay is the only appropriate course of action.”
Crews, 360 F.3d at 154 (internal citations omitted).
has requested a stay and admits that this pending § 2254
action includes a claim in the present case which requires
him to file a PCRA in the Court of Common Pleas of
Pennsylvania. As in Crews, Petitioner should not
face the prospect of forfeiting federal court review of his
issues. To this end, there is no indication that Petitioner
is seeking to defer adjudication of his claims or to defeat
the interests of finality of state court judgments.
Accordingly, Petitioner's request for a stay will be
so that this matter moves forward, within thirty (30) days of
disposition of Petitioner's PCRA, he will be required to
file a written status report with this Court which includes a
copy of the relevant state court disposition. Failure to
timely file the required written status report may be deemed
a failure to prosecute. Finally, upon demonstration by
Petitioner that his relevant state court proceeding have
concluded, the stay issued in this matter will be lifted.
Until such time, this matter will be marked closed for
administrative purposes. An appropriate Order
NOW, THEREFORE, this 11th day of June 2017, in
accordance with the accompanying Memorandum, IT IS ORDERED
Petitioner's request that disposition of his pending
habeas corpus petition be stayed (Doc. No. 6) is GRANTED.
Adjudication of Petitioner's federal habeas corpus action
Within thirty (30) days of the termination of his state court
proceedings, Petitioner is directed to file a written status
report with the Court detailing the conclusion of his
Pennsylvania state court exhaustion ...