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Caffas v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 23, 2018

DAVID ALLEN CAFFAS, Petitioner
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, et al., Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          KANE JUDGE.

         On May 18, 2016, the Court received and docketed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus submitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by Petitioner David Allen Caffas. (Doc. No. 1.) Caffas is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Forest in Marienville, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Forest”). Subsequent to filing the petition, Caffas filed a motion to alter or amend judgment (Doc. No. 20), motion to file an oversized traverse (Doc. No. 21), motion to expand the record (Doc. No. 22), and motion for leave to appeal in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 23.)

         I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Procedural History

         After a two-day jury trial on August 23 and 24, 2010, Caffas was convicted of manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and involuntary manslaughter and was acquitted of third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Commonwealth v. Caffas, Doc. Nos. CP-50-CR-445-2009, CP-50-CR-515-2009 (Perry Cty. C.C.P.).[1] Caffas was sentenced on October 7, 2010, to serve no less than eight-and-one-half years and no more than twenty years in a state correctional institution. (Id.) Caffas timely filed post-sentence motions on October 18, 2010, which the trial court denied by operation of law on June 27, 2011. (Id.) Caffas then timely filed a notice of appeal on July11, 2011, to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which in turn, determined that Caffas' sentence for manufacturing a controlled substance was in error and remanded for resentencing on April 3, 2012. Commonwealth v. Caffas, Doc. Nos. 1213 1214 MDA 2011 (Pa. Super. Ct.).

         Caffas was resentenced by the trial court on August 2, 2012, to an aggregate of no less than three-and-one-half years and no more than ten years, plus a flat sentence of five years to be served consecutively in a state correctional institution. Commonwealth v. Caffas, Doc. Nos. CP-50-CR-445-2009, CP-50-CR-515-2009 (Perry Cty. C.C.P.). Caffas did not file a direct appeal of his resentence.

         Caffas filed a counseled PCRA petition on January 29, 2013. Commonwealth v. Caffas, Doc. Nos. CP-50-CR-445-2009, CP-50-CR-515-2009 (Perry Cty. C.C.P.). A hearing was held on July 16, 2013, where Caffas and his trial counsel, Vincent Monfredo, testified. Commonwealth v. Caffas, Doc. Nos. CP-50-CR-445-2009, CP-50-CR-515-2009 (Perry Cty. C.C.P.); Commonwealth v. Caffas, No. 1963 MDA 2013 (Pa. Super. Ct.). The PCRA Court denied Caffas' petition on August 9, 2013. Id. Caffas timely filed a counseled notice of appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania on September 18, 2013. Commonwealth v. Caffas, No. 1963 MDA 2013 (Pa. Super. Ct.). Caffas raised the following two issues on appeal to the Superior Court: (1) whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to oppose the Commonwealth's motion to consolidate the two dockets against Caffas; and (2) whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to introduce evidence showing that the victim had marijuana in his system at the time of his death. Commonwealth v. Caffas, No. 1963 MDA 2013 (Pa. Super. Ct.).

         On November 5, 2014, the Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of Caffas' first counseled PCRA petition. (Id.) On July 21, 2015, Caffas filed a second PCRA petition. Commonwealth v. Caffas, Doc. Nos. CP-50-CR-445-2009, CP-50-CR-515-2009 (Perry Cty. C.C.P.) The PCRA court dismissed the second PCRA petition on January 11, 2017. (Id.) Caffas appealed the second PCRA petition to the Superior Court where it is currently pending. Commonwealth v. Caffas, No. 276 MDA 2017 (Pa. Super Ct.).

         Caffas filed the instant pro se federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on May 18, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) Respondents answered the petition on January 19, 2017. (Doc. No. 15.) Caffas has also subsequently filed the following motions: a motion to alter or amend judgment (Doc. No. 20), challenging this Court's February 21, 2017 Order (Doc. No. 19), denying his motion to stay or hold this case in abeyance; a motion to file an “oversized” traverse (Doc. No. 21), together with an attached copy of his traverse (Doc. No. 21); a motion to expand the record (Doc. No. 22), seeking transcripts, photographs, audio discs from 911 calls and recorded conversations; and a motion for leave to appeal in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 23).

         B. Habeas Claims Presented

         Caffas' petition presents the following thirteen grounds for relief:

1. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to raise right to confrontation, and ineffective assistance of PCRA counsel for failure to raise in first PCRA petition;
2. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to raise Brady violations, and ineffective assistance of PCRA counsel for failure to raise in first PCRA petition;
3. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel's failure to introduce the victim's toxicology report at trial, and ineffective assistance of PCRA counsel for failure to raise in first PCRA petition;
4. Serving multiple illegal sentences which are invalid and unconstitutional in light of United States v. Alleyene, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013);
5. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to raise prosecutorial misconduct, and manifest abuse of discretion and ineffective assistance of PCRA counsel for failure to raise in first PCRA petition;
6. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to raise manifest abuse of discretion by the trial judge, and ineffective assistance of PCRA counsel for failure to raise in first PCRA petition;
7. Ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure quash information and move to dismiss charges not supported by evidence during pre-trial, and ineffective assistance of PCRA ...

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