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Muhammad v. Ferguson

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 12, 2018

MU'MIT MUHAMMAD, Petitioner
v.
TAMMY FERGUSON Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          SYLVIA H. RAMBO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On June 28, 2016, Petitioner Keith Drain a.k.a Mu'mit Muhammad (“Petitioner”), an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Benner, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Benner”), filed what he entitled a “motion for writ of habeas corpus, ” in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 1.) After Petitioner's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was granted (Doc. No. 2), the Court directed Petitioner to complete the appropriate habeas corpus forms. On February 14, 2017, Petitioner filed his petition for habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, utilizing the appropriate habeas corpus petition form. (Doc. Nos. 9 and 10.) On March 29, 2017, Petitioner's case was transferred from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 13.)

         The Court issued an Administrative Order on April 3, 2017, informing Petitioner of the limitations upon his right to file another habeas petition in the future if his current petition was considered on the merits by the Court. (Doc. No. 14.) On June 8, 2017, the Court issued a show cause Order upon Respondent. (Doc. No. 16.) Respondent subsequently filed an answer to the petition, along with a brief and exhibits on October 27, 2017. (Doc. No. 26.) After the Court granted Petitioner several motions for extensions of time in which to file a traverse, on April 25 and May 7, 2018, Petitioner filed a traverse and exhibits. (Doc. Nos. 37, 38, 39.) Accordingly, this matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be denied.

         I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Procedural History

         While serving a fifteen-to-thirty year prison sentence for robbery, Petitioner assaulted a corrections officer with a broom handle while incarcerated at SCI-Rockview. (Doc. No. 26-1); Commonwealth of Pa v. Drain, No. CP-14-CR-987-2005 (C.C.P. Centre Cty.). Petitioner was charged with aggravated assault and on September 24, 2008, “a jury found him not guilty of causing serious bodily injury to a corrections officers but guilty of attempting to cause serious bodily injury to a corrections officer, causing bodily injury to a corrections officer, assault by prisoner, and simple assault.” (Id.)

         The Commonwealth filed a “Notice of Intent to Seek Mandatory Sentence under 42 Pa.C.S.A § 9714(a)”[1] on November 10, 2008. (Id.) On December 15, 2008, the trial court held a sentencing hearing and after considering evidence of Petitioner's 1988 conviction of aggravated assault and 1998 conviction of robbery, as well as Petitioner's pre-sentence investigation report, the court sentenced Petitioner to a minimum of twenty-five (25) years and a maximum of fifty (50) years imprisonment to run consecutive to an earlier sentence imposed by the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania. (Doc. No. 26-5); Commonwealth of Pa v. Drain, No. 830 MDA 2009 (Pa. Super. Ct. Aug. 10, 2010). The trial court also ordered Petitioner to pay $3, 028.06 in restitution. (Id.)

         On December 23, 2008, Petitioner timely filed post-sentence motions. (Id.) After a hearing was conducted by the trial court, it denied Petitioner's motions on April 22, 2009. (Id.) On May 12, 2009, Petitioner filed a timely direct appeal with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, raising the following issues: (1) Whether the trial court erred by denying Petitioner's challenge to the manner in which juries are summoned and composed in Centre County; (2) Whether the trial court erred by concluding that the Commonwealth met its burden of proving the predicate offenses for imposition of a “three strikes” sentence; and (3) Whether the trial court erred by ordering the payment of restitution to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Id.)

         On August 10, 2010, the Superior Court affirmed Petitioner's judgment of sentence and on August 9, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied Petitioner's petition for allowance of appeal. (Id.) On August 10, 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for Post-Conviction Relief pursuant to the Post-Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9541 et seq., and an amended PCRA petition on March 17, 2016. (Doc. No. 26-4 at 45, 69.) It appears that Petitioner raised ten (10) separate issues on PCRA review. (Doc. No. 26-4 at 61-64). While the PCRA petition was pending before the PCRA court, on June 28, 2016, Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition. (Doc. No. 1.) On May 8, 2017, the PCRA court issued a notice of intention to dismiss Petitioner's PCRA petition and on June 14, 2017, dismissed the PCRA petition. (Doc. No. 26-4 at 61, 66.) Petitioner did not file an appeal with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

         B. Habeas Claims Presented

         The Court construes Petitioner's habeas corpus petition as raising the following claims:

1. Whether Petitioner received an illegal sentence of 25-50 years pursuant to the three-strikes law;
2. Whether counsel was ineffective for failing to object to sentencing under the three-strikes law and failing to amend or have an evidentiary hearing within a timely matter; and
3. Whether the trial court erred in failing to inform the jury of Petitioner's sentencing under the ...

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