United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MICHAEL P. KING, Petitioner,
LAWRENCE P. MAHALLY, et al., Respondents.
S. Diamond, J.
prisoner Michael King seeks habeas relief, alleging
due process violations, prosecutorial misconduct, and
ineffective assistance. (Doc. No. 1); 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
I referred his Petition to Magistrate Judge Linda Caracappa,
who recommends denying relief. (Doc. No. 22.) On June 26,
2019, King asked for additional time to respond to Judge
Caracappa's Report. (Doc. No. 21.) I ordered him to file
objections by July 27, 2019. (Doc. No. 25.) King has failed
to do so. (Doc. No. 26.) As no objections to the Report and
Recommendation have been made, I must “satisfy [myself]
that there is no clear error on the face of the record in
order to accept the recommendation.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)
Advisory Committee Notes; see also Henderson v.
Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir. 1987) (the district
court must “afford some level of review” when no
objections have been made).
reviewed the Report, I see no errors. King bases his due
process claim on state court evidentiary rulings, which are
not cognizable on habeas review and do not otherwise
impugn any federal rights. See Estelle v. McGuire,
502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991) (“[I]t is not the province of
a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court
determinations on state-law questions.”); see also
Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813, 823 (2006) (the
Confrontation Clause applies only to testimonial
hearsay). To the extent King challenges purportedly
inflammatory language and testimony presented at trial, I
agree with Judge Caracappa that King did not fairly present
those claims in state court, rendering them unexhausted and
procedurally defaulted. See Whitney v. Horn, 280
F.3d 240, 252 (3d Cir. 2002); Lambert v. Blackwell,
134 F.3d 506, 513 (3d Cir. 1997).
also raises several instances of prosecutorial misconduct.
(§ 2254 Pet., Doc. No. 1.) I agree with Judge Caracappa,
however, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reasonably
rejected these misconduct claims. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d);
Donnelly v. DeChristoforo, 416 U.S. 637, 643 (1974)
(prosecutorial misconduct constitutes a constitutional
violation only when the comments “so infected the trial
with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial
of due process”); United States v. Welshans,
892 F.3d 566, 574 (3d Cir. 2018) (same).
next argues that his first trial counsel should have advised
him to plead guilty. (§ 2254 Pet., Doc. No. 1.) King did
not, however, raise this claim in state court. See Tome
v. Stickman, 167 Fed.Appx. 320, 322 (3d Cir. 2006)
(“A state prisoner must exhaust his state court
remedies before a federal court may grant him habeas
relief.” (quotation omitted)); see also McCandless
v. Vaughn, 172 F.3d 255, 260 (3d Cir. 1999). Nor has he
shown that this claim has “some merit, ” or that
his PCRA counsel's failure to raise this claim fell below
an objective standard of reasonableness. See Workman v.
Superintendent Albion SCI, 915 F.3d 928, 941 (3d Cir.
2019) (citing Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 13-19
(2012)); see also Miller-El v. Cockerell, 537 U.S.
322, 327 (2003). To the contrary, as Judge Caracappa
observes, King has consistently maintained his innocence,
thus failing to establish a reasonable probability that, but
for counsel's “ineffectiveness, ” he would
have pleaded guilty. See United States v. Seeley,
574 Fed.Appx. 75, 80 (3d Cir. 2014); Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984).
King argues that his second trial counsel should have
discussed the possibility of a plea deal with him. Although
King raised this claim in state court, the PCRA Court denied
it as meritless. I agree with Judge Caracappa that this
ruling warrants deference. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Indeed,
the record shows that the Government never raised the
possibility of a plea deal with King's second counsel.
these circumstances, I will adopt Judge Caracappa's
Report and Recommendation and deny King's request for
NOW, this 1st day of August, 2019, upon careful and
independent consideration of Michael King's Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. No. 1), the Commonwealth's
Response to King's Petition (Doc. No. 17), Judge Linda
Caracappa's Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 22), to
which there are no objections (Doc. No. 26), and available
state court records, it is hereby ORDERED
Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 22) is APPROVED
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Doc. No. 1) is
DISMISSED with prejudice;
Certificate of Appealability shall NOT
ISSUE. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(A);
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000); and
CLERK OF COURT shall CLOSE