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Beam v. Clark

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 30, 2018

KEVIN LEE BEAM, Petitioner,
MICHAEL CLARK, et al., Respondents.


          Hon. John E. Jones III, Judge.

         Petitioner Kevin Lee Beam (“Petitioner” or “Beam”), a state inmate currently confined at the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania, filed his Petition (Doc. 1) for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and Memorandum (Doc. 2) in support of the petition on April 26, 2016. He seeks relief from the Judgment of Sentence of twenty years and nine months to fifty-nine years' incarceration imposed in Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, criminal case CP-28-CR-0000499-200, following convictions for rape, criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. (Doc. 1, p. 1).

         By Memorandum and Order dated May 9, 2018, the Court denied the petition with respect to all claims except the claim that Attorney Toms' “failure to properly and adequately inform [him], a person with a low IQ and severely hindered by his mental capacity, of the significant risks of withdrawing the guilty plea and going to trial amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel at a critical stage in the proceedings...” (Doc. 17; Doc. 2, p. 32). As noted in the Court's prior Memorandum, because the state court failed to address the issue, despite the fact that Beam fairly presented it during all phases of the collateral proceedings (Doc. 15-1, pp. 96, 97; Doc. 15-2, pp. 9, 18, 19, 45-48, 62-107; Doc. 15-3, pp. 39-42; Doc. 15-4, pp. 4-14; Doc. 15-5, pp. 19-21), de novo review is required. (Doc. 17, pp. 40, 41). The Court ordered Respondents to file a supplemental brief addressing the issue. (Id. at 42). Respondents filed a timely Supplemental Response. (Doc. 20). The Court also directed Respondents to expand the record by providing all documents related to the entry and withdrawal of the guilty plea, including transcripts of the October 25, 2010 plea colloquy and the December 8, 2010 hearing on the withdrawal of the plea. (Doc. 17, p. 42). According to Respondents, the transcripts are no longer available; they were destroyed in accordance with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts Record Retention and Disposition Schedule. (Doc. 20-1, p. 3, ¶¶ 3-7). Although the transcripts would have provided additional insight into the state court proceedings, they are not integral to the disposition of Beam's claim. The issue is now ripe for disposition. De novo review has been undertaken and, for the reasons set forth below, relief will be denied.


         Where the state court does not adjudicate a fairly presented claim on the merits, deferential AEDPA standards of review under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) do not apply, and “the federal habeas court must conduct a de novo review over pure legal questions and mixed questions of law and fact.” Appel v. Horn, 250 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2001); see also Bronshtein v. Horn, 404 F.3d 700, 709 n. 4 (3d Cir. 2005). Additionally, regardless of whether a state court reaches the merits of a claim, a “federal habeas court must afford a state court's factual findings a presumption of correctness and . . . the presumption applies to factual determinations of state trial and appellate courts.” Fahy v. Horn, 516 F.3d 169, 181 (3d Cir. 2008).


         On March 18, 2009, Beam was charged with six counts of rape, sexual assault, criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, three counts of aggravated indecent assault, two counts of indecent assault, endangering the welfare of a child and three counts of statutory sexual assault. (Doc. 15-2, p. 66). On June 16, 2009, Beam sought a psychiatric evaluation to determine competency. (Id.) The trial court granted his motion and appointed mental health counsel. (Id.) On December 7, 2009, following review of the psychiatric report, the trial court deemed Beam incompetent and ordered him committed to Torrance State Hospital for evaluation pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act, 50 P.S. §§ 7402-03, with a directive to resume criminal proceedings when competence was restored. (Id.) On February 4, 2010, the trial court extended Beam's commitment for an additional sixty thirty days based on the opinion of Dr. Daleep Rathore (“Dr. Rathore”), who opined that further treatment was necessary. (Id.) “Dr. Rathore noted that Beam's diagnosis at that time was depression, not otherwise specified, and history of alcohol abuse.” (Id.).

         On March 30, 2010, the Torrance State Hospital Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center issued a “Forensic Summary, ” authored by Dr. Rathore, indicating, inter alia, that Dr. Adamsky completed a psychological assessment on February 4, 2010, and that Beam's competency had been restored. (Doc. 20-1, pp. 7-13). The relevant portions of the summary are as follows:

Mr. Kevin Beam is a 37-year-old, date of birth January 9, 1973, single, unemployed, 12th grade education, supported from Social Security Disability income, who was incarcerated at Franklin County Jail since March 18, 2009… He was transferred to Torrance State Hospital Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center on January 27, 2010 on a 402 commitment for competency evaluation.
Mr. Beam indicated that he appropriately achieved all of his developmental milestones.
Mr. Beam reported that he was frequently in trouble as a child and adolescent. He acknowledged a history of lying, stealing, and fighting. He stated that these behaviors in addition to truancy generalized to the academic setting leading to several school suspensions. Mr. Beam described himself as an “A, B, and C” student and indicated he was enrolled in learning support classes for an unknown reason. However, he stated that he graduated from high school with “two diplomas” for welding and academics.
Mr. Beam stated that his history of mental health treatment began during adolescence. He reported that during this time period, he received inpatient treatment “a few times” at Chambersburg Hospital and one other time at a hospital which he could not remember.
He was given MMPI-2, WASI, mini mental health status examination, and Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM). The MMPI is an objective inventory of personality construct and psychopathology. Mr. Beam's scores on this assessment measure were found to be invalid. His pattern of responding indicates a significantly high degree of response and unusualness even among clinical population. This suggest that Mr. Beam was over reporting and seriously exaggerating symptomology. His response style indicates an attempt to portray himself in a very negative manner possibly for secondary gain. The WASI is an assessment instrument for evaluating one's intellectual functioning by measuring verbal, nonverbal, and general cognitive abilities. His full-scale IQ was 71, verbal IQ was 75, and performance IQ was 72. The mini mental status examination score was 28 out of a possible 30 which falls within the normal range for orientation and neurological functioning. The TOMM is a 50 item recognition test designed to help clinicians discriminate between malingering and genuine memory deficits. This test includes two learning trials and retention trial. Mr. Beam's responses indicate the possibility of malingering. His scores on trails [sic] 1 and 2 and retention were 5, 0, and 1 respectively. Mr. Beam's responses on trial 1 and 2 as well as the retention trial were significantly lower than individuals suffering from dementia, traumatic brain injuries, aphasia, and cognitive impairment. Furthermore, his significantly low scores also raise serious questions about the validity of his scores on the other tests suggesting an underlying motivation not to perform well.
Mr. Beam's performance on testing demonstrated that his cognitive abilities fall within the borderline range of intelligence.
Mr. Beam was casually dressed, clean in appearance, and able to maintain good eye contact. He was oriented to person, place and time. He was cooperative and showed no psychomotor agitation or retardation. His speech was spontaneous, coherent, and goal directed. His depression improved. He was not irritable and reported no suicidal or homicidal thoughts. He reported no auditory or visual hallucinations. He was not showing any delusional thought process or paranoia. His insight and judgment improved.
In my clinical opinion, he is aware of pending charges against him. He is aware of the role of judge, public defender, and district attorney's office. He is aware of plea bargain and jury trial. He is aware these charges are severe and there are severe consequences from these charges. Again, in my clinical opinion he is competent to assist his attorney in his legal defense. He will be transferred to Franklin County Jail according to forensic security arrangements. If he decompensates, then he will need a 304 commitment to stabilize his depression.

(Doc. 20-1, pp. 7-13). In early April 2010, Beam returned to Franklin County to answer to the criminal charges. (Doc. 15-2, p. 66).

         On or about October 15, 2010, Beam sent a letter to Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Lauren E. Sulcove stating as follows:

I have compiled this letter respectfully in request of a timely responce [sic]. I am interested in coming to an agreement between the D.A. and I and ending this case in a timely and just fashion.
I would like to plea [sic] guilty to a misdemeaner [sic] county sentence of 11-to-23 months with no Meagans [sic] law or child abuse classes involved. A coruption [sic] of minor charge is in mind. Keep in mind I have benefits to offer the D.A. as well.
Please come to the Franklin County Jail to discuss this at your earliest convenance [sic]. Thank you for your time and ...

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