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Sledge v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 8, 2017

DALE PATRICK SLEDGE, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE, and DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF FAYETTE COUNTY, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MAUREEN P. KELLY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Dale Patrick Sledge (“Petitioner”) was released on parole at the time of filing this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the “Petition”), challenging his state court convictions for drug possession and possession with intent to deliver. As Respondents correctly pointed out, the Petition is time-barred, and, as such, it will be dismissed.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. State Court Procedural History

         The Pennsylvania Superior Court, in its Opinion denying post conviction relief, described the procedural history of the case as follows:

On July 16, 2008, following Sledge's arrest, Attorney David Kaiser entered his appearance, waived Sledge's arraignment, and entered a plea of not guilty. On August 18, 2008, Attorney Kaiser filed an Omnibus Pretrial Motion, which included a motion to suppress, a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 600, and a motion for writ of habeas corpus. On October 17, 2008, the Honorable John J. Wagner, Jr. of the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas held a hearing on the Omnibus Pretrial Motion. On January 26, 2009, Judge Wagner denied all of Sledge's motions. Prior to the beginning of trial, Attorney Kaiser filed a Motion to Withdraw, which the Honorable Conrad Capuzzi granted on June 3, 2009. Attorney Sally Frick subsequently entered her appearance as trial counsel.
On March 8, 2010, a jury convicted Sledge of possession with intent to deliver 13.2 grams of cocaine and possession with intent to deliver 100 grams of marijuana. On April 5, 2010, the trial court sentenced Sledge to 18-36 months' imprisonment for possession with intent to deliver cocaine and a consecutive term of 1-12 months' imprisonment for possession with intent to deliver marijuana. On October 24, 2011, this Court affirmed the judgments of sentence. Commonwealth v. Sledge, 682 WDA 2010 (Pa. Super. filed October 24, 2011) (unpublished memorandum). On January 9, 2012, we denied reconsideration. Sledge did not appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
On April 30, 2012, Sledge filed a counseled PCRA petition. On October 5, 2012, Sledge filed a pro se motion to seeking [sic] removal of his private counsel, Attorney Sally Frick, and appointment of new counsel by the court. On October 11, 2012, the court ordered the withdrawal of private counsel and appointment of new counsel. On October 15, 2012, Sledge filed an amended pro se PCRA petition alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Appointed counsel did not file a counseled PCRA petition. On December 5, 2012, Sledge requested leave to proceed pro se. On May 13, 2013, the PCRA court conducted a hearing pursuant to Commonwealth v. Grazier, 552 Pa. 9, 713 A.2d 81 (1998), and granted Sledge's request to represent himself at the PCRA evidentiary hearing. See Id. at 82 (“When a waiver of the right to counsel is sought at the post-conviction and appellate stages, an on-the-record determination should be made that the waiver is a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary one”). On June 12, 2013, the court held an evidentiary hearing on Sledge's PCRA petition. On August 9, 2013, the court denied Sledge's petition. Sledge filed a timely appeal and timely statement of matters complained of on appeal.

Com. v. Sledge, 1473 WDA 2013, 2014 WL 10914349, at *1 (Pa. Super. July 1, 2014).

         The Superior Court affirmed the denial of PCRA relief on July 1, 2014. Petitioner then filed a timely Petition for Allowance of Appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which denied it on November 25, 2014. Com. v. Sledge, 104 A.3d 4 (Pa. Nov. 25, 2014) (Table).

         In the meantime, Petitioner was released on parole as of August 20, 2013. ECF No. 10 at 2 ¶ 2.

         B. Federal Court Procedural History

         Petitioner, proceeding pro se, requested, ECF No. 1, and was granted in forma pauperis status. ECF No. 3. Petitioner filed exhibits in support of the Petition, ECF No. 2, and the Petition. ECF No 4. The Petition named as respondents, inter alia, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (“the Board”), as his custodian given that at the time he initiated these proceedings in October 2015, Petitioner had already been released on parole; however, because Petitioner was challenging his underlying conviction, the District Attorney of Fayette County was added as a party respondent to defend the constitutionality of Petitioner's conviction. ECF No. 5. The Board filed an Answer, indicating that because the Petition was not challenging Petitioner's parole, Petitioner is not entitled to any relief against the Board. ECF No. 10. The District Attorney of Fayette County filed an Answer (“the Answer”), raising the statute of limitations defense. ECF No. 10. Petitioner then filed Exhibits in support of the Petition, which was the transcript of the PCRA hearing conducted on June 12, 2013. ECF No. 11. Petitioner did not file a traverse challenging the fact that the Petition is time-barred.[1]

         All the parties have consented to have the United States Magistrate Judge exercise ...


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