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Rucker v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 24, 2018

LANCE B. RUCKER, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, Respondents.

          Lance B. Rucker Counsel for Respondents

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Lisa Pupo Lenihan United States Magistrate Judge

         A. Relevant Procedural Background

         Petitioner Lance B. Rucker (“Petitioner”) has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 wherein he challenges his judgment of sentence entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on April 23, 2001. (ECF No. 1.)

         The relevant procedural history for this case is as follows. On September 9, 1997, Petitioner was charged with one (1) count of Criminal Homicide at CP-02-CR-0011745-1997 (ECF No. 7-1), and at CP-02-CR-0012372-1997, Petitioner was charged with one (1) count each of Robbery, Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act: Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License, Impersonating Public Servant, and Criminal Conspiracy (ECF No. 7-2).[1] Petitioner was ultimately convicted of Second Degree Murder, Robbery, Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act: Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License, Impersonating Public Servant, and Criminal Conspiracy. On February 5, 1998, Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

         On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Petitioner's judgment of sentence in a Memorandum dated September 13, 1999. (ECF No. 7-4, pp.37-42.) However, on April 25, 2000, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted Petitioner a Petition for Allowance of Appeal, reversed his judgment of sentence, and awarded him a new trial. (ECF No. 7-8, pp.1-4); (ECF No. 8-2, pp.38-43); Commonwealth v. Rucker, 761 A.2d 541 (2000). After a new jury trial, Petitioner was again convicted of Second Degree Murder, Robbery, Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act: Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License, Impersonating Public Servant, and Criminal Conspiracy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 23, 2001. On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Petitioner's judgment of sentence in a Memorandum entered on August 20, 2002 (ECF No. 8-3, pp.18-23), and Petitioner did not file a Petition for Allowance of Appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

         Through counsel, Petitioner filed a petition pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) on September 22, 2003. (ECF No. 8-4.) An Amended PCRA petition was filed on October 7, 2003 (ECF No. 8-5, pp.27-34), but it was dismissed on October 9, 2003 (ECF No. 8-5, p.44). In a Memorandum issued on May 10, 2005, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the judgment of the PCRA court and remanded the case for a hearing. (ECF No. 8-8, pp.18-25.) On August 18, 2005, the PCRA court entered an Order finding that the PCRA petition was timely filed (ECF No. 9-1, p.1), and on October 11, 2005 reinstated Petitioner's right to file a Petition for Allowance of Appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (ECF No. 9-2, p.1). A Petition for Allowance of Appeal was filed by Petitioner on November 1, 2005 (ECF No. 9-3, pp.1-43), and it was subsequently denied on March 7, 2006 (ECF No. 9-3, p.44).

         Another PCRA petition was filed by Petitioner through counsel on September 21, 2006 (ECF No. 9-4), which was dismissed by the PCRA court on November 1, 2006 (ECF No. 9-6, pp.34-43). On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of the PCRA petition in a Memorandum issued on January 8, 2008. (ECF No. 9-8, pp.37-40.) A Petition for Allowance of Appeal was filed on January 30, 2008 (ECF No. 10-1, pp.4-45), and it was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on September 12, 2008 (ECF No. 10-1, p.46).

         Petitioner filed a pro se second PCRA petition on October 31, 2008 (ECF No. 10-2, pp.138), that was dismissed on December 22, 2008 (ECF No. 10-2, p.39). No. appeal was filed.

         Petitioner filed a pro se third PCRA petition on June 17, 2009 (ECF Nos. 10-3, 10-4), that was dismissed on July 7, 2009 (ECF No. 10-5, p.17). On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of the PCRA petition in a Memorandum issued on August 13, 2010. (ECF No. 10-8, pp.28-30.) An application for reargument was filed and denied on October 22, 2010. (ECF No. 10-8, p.31.) Petitioner did not file a Petition for Allowance of Appeal.

         On January 20, 2011, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this Court at Civil Action No. 11-82. The undersigned issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order on August 30, 2011, which dismissed the Petition as untimely and denied a Certificate of Appealability. (CA No. 11-82, ECF No. 20.) Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration that was granted for the purpose of filing objections, but following reconsideration, the August 20, 2011 Memorandum Opinion and Order was reaffirmed. (CA No. 11-82, ECF Nos. 24, Text Order issued 12/16/11.) Petitioner's Application for a Certificate of Appealability was denied by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on March 9, 2012 (CA No. 11-82, ECF No. 30), and his request for rehearing en banc was denied on April 9, 2012 (3d Cir. No. 11-4617). Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court that was denied on October 1, 2012. (U.S. No. 11-10347.)

         Petitioner returned to the state court and filed a pro se fourth PCRA petition on November 27, 2012. (ECF No. 11-1, pp.1-27.) That petition was dismissed on January 7, 2013. (ECF No. 11-1, pp.29-31.) The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of the PCRA petition in a Memorandum issued on October 2, 2013. (ECF No. 11-3, pp.18-21.) Petitioner's Petition for Allowance of Appeal (ECF No. 11-4, pp.1-27) was denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on February 26, 2014 (ECF No. 11-4, p.29), and his application for reconsideration was denied on April 4, 2014 (ECF No. 11-5, p.26).

         On May 22, 2014, Petitioner returned to this Court and filed a Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) in Civil Action No. 11-82. (CA No. 11-82, ECF No. 32.) The undersigned issued an Order denying the Motion and a Certificate of Appealability on June 23, 2014. (CA No. 11-82, ECF No.35.) Petitioner did not file an appeal.

         On September 14, 2015, Petitioner once again returned to state court and filed a pro se fifth PCRA petition (ECF No. 11-6) that was dismissed on July 13, 2016 (ECF No. 11-8, p.9). The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of PCRA relief in a Memorandum issued on April 7, 2017. (ECF No. 11-10, pp.24-30.) Petitioner's Petition for Allowance of Appeal (ECF No. ...


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