United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
Cynthia Reed Eddy United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is the counseled Amended Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
(“Petition”) filed on behalf of Petitioner,
Joseph Shegog (“Petitioner” or
“Shegog”). Shegog is currently incarcerated in
the State Correctional Institution in Albion, Pennsylvania.
For the reasons that follow, the Petition will be dismissed
and a certificate of appealability will be
and Procedural Background
is challenging the judgment of sentence imposed upon him by
the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County on December 15,
2005. The charges against Shegog stem from the December 24,
2000, homicide of Joseph Anderson. According to the
Commonwealth's theory of the case and evidence adduced at
trial, Shegog shot and killed Anderson. At trial, Shegog
advanced an innocence defense. Following a jury trial
presided over by the Honorable John D. McBride of the Court
of Common Pleas of Beaver County, Shegog was convicted of
Murder in the First Degree and Carrying a Firearm Without a
License. On January 11, 2006, Shegog was sentenced to a
mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole.
appealed his conviction and sentence to the Superior Court of
Pennsylvania. Shegog, through counsel, raised seven
challenges, none of which are raised in the instant federal
habeas case. Shegog's conviction and sentence were
affirmed on September 11, 2007, and the Supreme Court of
Pennsylvania denied review by order dated November 30, 2009.
on direct appeal, Shegog filed a pro se petition for
collateral review under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction
Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §
9541 - 9546.
was appointed and filed a Supplemental PCRA Petition raising
nine (9) claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and
three (3) constitutional claims. On April 8, 2013, the PCRA
court denied each of Shegog's claims. On appeal, the
Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the PCRA order. The
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania again denied review.
been denied relief in state court, on December 16, 2014,
Shegog filed in this Court a pro se habeas petition
and on January 26, 2015, requested an extension of time in
which to file an Amended Petition. Shegog was granted an
extension until March 2, 2015, to file his Amended Petition.
On February 27, 2015, Shegog requested another extension to
file his Amended Petition, which requested was granted and
Shegog was given an extension until May 8, 2015, to file his
Amended Complaint. On May 5, 2015, counsel entered his
appearance for Shegog. Thereafter, counsel sought a number of
extensions of time to file an Amended Petition and brief in
support. On September 1, 2015, counsel filed an Amended
Petition (ECF No. 13) and the following month, on October 16,
2015, filed a brief in support of the Amended Petition. (ECF
No. 18). On October 25, 2015, filed amended the Petition to
correct a “slight technical matter.” (ECF No.
21). The Amended Petition filed at ECF No. 21, remains the
his counseled Amended Petition, Shegog raises the following
three ineffective assistance of counsel claims, which are
similar to claims he raised on collateral review:
GROUND ONE: Petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to a
public trial was violated due to ineffective assistance of
counsel for not objecting to procedure where part of the jury
selection was closed to the public as well as to
Petitioner's family. The public's right to attend the
jury selection process is a clearly established right under
GROUND TWO: Petitioner was denied effective assistance of
counsel because trial counsel had a conflict of interest.
GROUND THREE: Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
conduct an adequate investigation and call an available
exculpatory eyewitness, Rashawdi Pugh, at trial, who would
have testified that he saw the decedent reaching for and
drawing a gun when he was shot, supporting a claim of
Pet. (ECF No. 21). Respondents filed a timely Answer (ECF No.
24), to which Shegog filed a traverse reply brief (ECF No.
27). The matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.
Standard of Review
it is not contested that each of Shegog's ineffective
assistance of counsel claims were adjudicated on the merits
by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, review of his claims
is subject to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty
Act of 1996, 110 Stat. 1214 (“AEDPA”). Under
AEDPA, habeas relief is unavailable unless the state
court's decision (1) “was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United
States” or (2) “was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
decision by a state court is “contrary to . . . clearly
established law if it applies a rule that contradicts the
governing law set forth” in United States Supreme Court
precedent. Price v. Vincent, 538 U.S. 634, 640
(2003). (quotations and citations omitted). A state court
need not have cited any particular Supreme Court decisions,
and this standard affords considerable latitude to the state
court, “so long as neither the reasoning nor the result
of the state-court decision contradicts” federal law.
Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (per curiam).
In this regard, the state court's decision need not even
be accompanied by an explanation, as long as there was a
“reasonable basis for the state court to deny
relief.” Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86,
“when the state court pens a clear, reasoned opinion,
federal habeas courts may not speculate as to theories that
‘could have supported' the state court's
decision. Dennis v. Sec'y, Pa. Dep't of
Corrs., 834 F.3d 263, 283 (3d Cir. 2016) (en banc). If
the state court does provide reasoning, the state court
decision is not entitled to deference if no “fairminded
jurist ” could “disagree that those arguments
or theories are not consistent with the holding in a prior
decision of” the Supreme Court. Richter, 562
U.S. at 102. The state court may not add or remove a factor
from a clearly established federal law test. Dennis,
834 F.3d at 307.
claims will be reviewed with these standards in mind.
federal claims here are each an ineffective assistance of
counsel claim, which requires the petitioner to establish (i)
constitutionally deficient representation, and (2) the
deficiency prejudiced the defense. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). To establish deficient
performance, a petitioner must demonstrate that counsel's
representation “fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness.” Id. at 688. To satisfy the
second prong of counsel ineffectiveness,
a defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability
that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result
of the proceedings would have been different. A reasonable
probability is a probability sufficient to undermine
confidence in the outcome.
Id. at 694. In addition, although a petitioner must
satisfy both prongs to succeed on his ineffectiveness claim,
the Supreme Court noted that “[i]f it is easier to
dispose of an ineffectiveness claim on the ground of lack of
sufficient prejudice, which we expect will often ...