United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Harvey Matthews, an inmate presently confined at the Benner
State Correctional Institution, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
(SCI-Benner) filed this pro se petition for writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Following
the filing of a response to the petition, this Court issued a
Memorandum and Order dated May 21, 2014 which determined that
adjudication of this habeas corpus action should be stayed.
See Doc. 15.
Order dated January 6, 2016, Petitioner was granted leave to
file an amended petition containing only those pending claims
which he had exhausted in state court. See Doc. 24.
An amended petition (Doc. 26) and supporting memorandum (Doc.
25) were thereafter filed by Matthews and this matter was
reopened. After being granted an extension of time, the
Respondent filed a response to the amended petition.
was convicted of two (2) counts of aggravated indecent
assault, nineteen (19) counts of indecent assault, and two
(2) counts of corruption of minors following a 2006 jury
trial in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas. The charges
stemmed from the repeated molesting of two minor girls
between 1997-1999 at the Shohola Elementary School in Pike
County, Pennsylvania. During the relevant time period, Matthew
was employed as the victims' third grade
a sentencing hearing, Matthews was designated as a sexually
violent sexual predator and sentenced to an aggregate eleven
and one half (11½) to twenty-four (24) year term of
imprisonment in November, 2006.
conviction and sentence were affirmed on January 4, 2008
following a direct appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
See Commonwealth v. Matthews, 947 A.2d 828 (Pa.
Super. 2008)(Table). On direct appeal to the Pennsylvania
Superior Court, Petitioner raised the following five issues:
(1) the evidence was insufficient to establish indecent
assault against the two student victims; (2) the cases
against the two victims should have been severed; (3) the
trial court erred by not excluding the testimony of a third
student; (4) the trial court erred in concluding that
Matthews was a sexually violent predator; and (5) the trial
court abused its discretion in imposing the statutory maximum
sentence for each count. See Doc. 8-15, p. 6.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court subsequently denied Matthews'
petition for allowance of appeal by decision dated October 1,
2008. See Commonwealth v. Matthews, 958 A.2d 1047
(Pa. 2008)(Table). Matthews did not seek further review from
the United States Supreme Court.
August 20, 2009, Matthews file an action pursuant to
Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act
(PCRA). Following appointment of counsel,
submission of an amended PCRA petition, and an evidentiary
hearing, relief was denied on April 26, 2010. Matthews filed
a PCRA appeal to the Superior Court which raised three
issues: (1) trial counsel was ineffective for not requesting
a failure to promptly complain instructions; (2) the trial
court erred in not providing the failure to promptly
complaint instruction; and (3) trial counsel was deficient
for introducing damaging evidence that was previously ruled
inadmissible. See Doc. 8-22, Exhibit 18, p. 4.
PCRA appeal was denied by the Superior Court on March 22,
2011. See Commonwealth v. Matthews, 26 A.3d 1202
(Pa. Super. 2011)(Table). A motion for reconsideration was
denied by the Superior Court on May 10, 2011. See
id. By decision dated January 30, 2012, the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court denied Matthews' petition for allowance of
appeal. See Commonwealth v. Matthews, 38 A.3d 824
(Pa. 2012)(Table). This pro se petition was
thereafter filed on August 27, 2012.
the initiation of this action, Petitioner filed a second PCRA
petition on October 11, 2012 which was subsequently
One of Matthews' pending Amended Petition claims
entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief on the basis that
trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by allowing the
introduction of potentially damaging evidence which the trial
court had previously ruled was inadmissible. Petitioner
further contends that his trial counsel failed to object to
improper cross examination and present witnesses and
documents that could have created reasonable doubt.
See Doc. 26, ¶ 12.
Two claims that trial counsel was also deficient for not
requesting that a prompt complaint instruction be given to
the jury. See id. In a subsequent addendum (Doc.
33), Matthews additionally maintains that the trial court
acted improperly by imposing a sentence in excess of the
seeks dismissal of the amended petition on the grounds that
it is untimely, many of Petitioner's claims were
procedurally defaulted, and trial counsel's performance
did not ...