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Rivera v. Ferguson

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 7, 2017

EMANUEL RIVERA, Petitioner
v.
TAMMY FERGUSON, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On September 11, 2017, Emmanuel Rivera, an inmate presently confined at the Rockview State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (SCI-Rockview), filed this pro se habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. (Doc. 1, petition). He attacks a conviction imposed by the Court of Common Pleas for York County, Pennsylvania. Id. Petitioner has also filed a motion to stay these proceedings. (Doc. 3). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny Petitioner's motion to stay and dismiss the petition without prejudice.

         I. Background

         On July 31, 2013, after having been found guilty by jury trial, Rivera was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a consecutive four to eight year sentence, on four separate crimes pending in two separate actions. (See Doc. 1). Defendant perfected an appeal on all cases. See Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Rivera, 1774 MDA 2013. On December 2, 2014, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Rivera's conviction and sentence. Id.

         On January 26, 2015, Petitioner filed a Post-Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) petition, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a petition for allowance to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. (Doc. 1 at 3). On August 25, 2015, Rivera's appellate rights were reinstated. Id. Counsel, once again failed to file a an appeal to the Supreme Court and Petitioner's appellate rights were waived. Id.

         On October 14, 2015, Petitioner filed a second PCRA petition, arguing that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance for failing to petition for allowance of appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Id. On February 4, 2016, Rivera's appellate rights were reinstated. Id.

         On March 8, 2016, Rivera filed a petition for allowance of appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. See 1774 MDA 2013.

         On July 6, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Rivera's petition for allowance of appeal. Id.

         On June 29, 2017, Rivera filed a PCRA petition with the trial court. See Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Rivera, CP-67-CR-0006999-2012. Rivera's PCRA petition is currently pending. Id.

         On September 11, 2017, Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 1).

         II. Discussion

         A 2254 petitioner must have exhausted his state-court remedies before a federal court can grant relief. See Rolan v. Coleman, 680 F.3d 311, 317 (3d Cir. 2012). (“Title 28 U.S.C. §2254 requires that a habeas petitioner exhaust the remedies available in the state courts before a federal court can exercise habeas corpus jurisdiction over his claim.”). Generally, if state-court remedies have not been exhausted, the district court must dismiss the petition. Roman v. DiGuglielmo, 675 F.3d 2014, 209 (3d Cir. 2012).

         Rivera recognizes that he has not exhausted his state-court remedies, and he realizes the significance of the fact that his PCRA petition is still pending in state court. He, nonetheless, “due to the procedural chaos, filed this instant petition before the expiration of said date.” (Doc. 1 at 19). He has thus protectively filed his 2254 petition, and asks the court to stay the petition until he exhausts his state court remedies with respect to his ending PCRA petition.

         This Court has the authority to stay a 2254 petition while the petitioner exhausts state-court remedies. ” Heleva v. Brooks,581 F.3d 187, 191 (3d Cir.2009). To obtain a stay, the petitioner must show “ ‘good cause for his failure to exhaust, his unexhausted claims are potentially meritorious, and there is no indication that the petitioner engaged in intentionally ...


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