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Masko v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 31, 2018

RONALD THOMAS MASKO, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, et al. Respondents.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ROBERT C. MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Recommendation:

         It is respectfully recommended that the petition of Ronald Thomas Masko for a writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 5) be dismissed for failure to exhaust state court remedies, and because reasonable jurists could not disagree, that a certificate of appealability be denied.

         II. Report:

         Ronald Thomas Masko, an inmate at the Washington County Corrections Facility has presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus which he has been granted leave to prosecute in forma pauperis.

         In his petition, Masko alleges that he was arrested on March 2, 2018 on various felony and misdemeanor charges; that despite his requests, a formal complaint was not filed until March 5, 2018 and he was not provided with a “docket sheet”; that the state court has not taken any action on his motions and requests; that his requests for recusal of the district magistrate and counsel have been ignored and that reasonable bail has not been set resulting in his “illegal” detention.

It is provided in 28 U.S.C. §2254(b) that:
An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, or that there is either an absence of available State corrective process or the existence of circumstances rendering such process ineffective to protect the rights of the prisoner.
This statute represents a codification of the well-established concept which requires that before a federal court will review any allegations raised by a state prisoner, those allegations must first be presented to that state's highest court for consideration. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973); Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Kentucky, 410 U.S. 484 (1973); Doctor v. Walters, 96 F.3d 675 (3d Cir. 1996).

         It is only when a petitioner has demonstrated that the available corrective process would be ineffective or futile that the exhaustion requirement will not be imposed. Preiser v. Rodriguez, supra.; Walker v. Vaughn, 53 F.3d 609 (3d Cir. 1995).

         If it appears that there are available state court remedies, the court must determine whether a procedural default has occurred. If a procedural default has occurred, the court must determine whether cause or prejudice exists for the default, or whether a fundamental miscarriage of justice would result from a failure to consider the claims. Carter v. Vaughn, 62 F.3d 591 (3d Cir. 1995).

         In construing § 2254(d)(1), the Court in Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412-413 (2000) stated:

Under § 2254(d)(1), the writ may issue only if one of the following two conditions is satisfied - the state-court adjudication resulted in a decision that (1) “was contrary to ... clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, ” or (2) “involved an unreasonable application of ... clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” Under the “contrary to” clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by this Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than this Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts. Under the “unreasonable application” clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court identifies the correct governing legal principle from this Court's decisions but unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case.

         That is, the state court determination must be objectively unreasonable. Renico v. Lett, 130 S.Ct. 1855 (2010). This is a very difficult burden to ...


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