United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
E. Schwab Chief United States Magistrate Judge.
a habeas corpus case filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in
which the petitioner, Louis Roderick Ogden
(“Ogden”), argues that his conviction should be
overturned because he received ineffective assistance of
counsel and because the state court did not overturn his
conviction on the grounds of his trial counsel's alleged
ineffectiveness. The merits of Ogden's claims were
previously considered and denied by the Pennsylvania Superior
Court. Because we find that the Superior Court's decision
was not contrary to clearly established federal law and did
not involve an unreasonable application of clearly
established federal law, we will deny Ogden's petition.
Background and Procedural History.
September 22, 2015, Ogden was convicted of first-degree
murder in the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas and
sentenced to life in prison for the killing of his niece,
Rebecca Pisall (“Pisall”). Commonwealth v.
Ogden, No. 3148 EDA 2015, 2016 WL 5923026, at *1 (Pa.
Super. Ct. Oct. 11, 2016). The killing occurred on June 20,
2014, when Pisall came to Ogden's home to purchase heroin
from him. Id. Ogden was not awake at the time that
Pisall arrived, so Pisall spoke briefly with Ogden's
daughter, Mary Langendorfer (“Langendorfer”).
Id. Langendorfer woke Ogden up and told him that
Pisall wanted to buy heroin. Id. Ogden gave
Langendorfer a small bag of heroin and told her to
“take care of it.” Id. Langendorfer then
gave the bag of heroin to Pisall in exchange for $60 and
brought the money to Ogden. Id. When Langendorfer
returned to the kitchen, Pisall claimed that the bag had been
empty and demanded her money back. Id. Langendorfer
told Ogden about Pisall's complaint, at which point Ogden
pulled out a loaded gun, walked into the kitchen, and shot
Pisall in the head “from 4-8 inches away.”
Id. Ogden then pointed the gun at Langendorfer and
said, “it just went off.” Id. Shortly
after Pisall was killed, Ogden called 911 and told police
that he had shot Pisall. Id. He was then read his
Miranda rights, after which he provided a statement
to the police on Pisall's killing. Id.
was tried for murder in the Wayne County Court of Common
Pleas. Id. The Commonwealth relied on, among other
evidence, testimony from Langendorfer and Ogden's
statement to the police. Id. After trial, Ogden was
convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in
prison. Id. Ogden appealed his conviction to the
Pennsylvania Superior Court, arguing (1) that the trial court
erred by not instructing the jury on a defense of voluntary
intoxication even though Ogden had consumed a substantial
amount of heroin in the hours leading up to Pisall's
killing; (2) that the Commonwealth had presented insufficient
evidence to convict him of first-degree murder; (3) that the
trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial even
though the jury deliberated for only 10-11 minutes before
reaching a verdict; and (4) that the trial court erred by not
striking the jury despite a venire person allegedly saying
“if he made it this far, I'd figure he'd have
to be guilty.” Id. at *2. The Superior Court
found that the trial court properly exercised its discretion
and that there were no merits to the issues Ogden raised, and
accordingly affirmed his conviction. Id. at *6.
Ogden did not appeal the Superior Court's decision to the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Doc. 1 at 2.
November 10, 2016, Ogden filed a petition in the Court of
Common Pleas challenging his conviction under the PCRA.
See doc. 3-7 at 1; Commonwealth v. Ogden,
No. CP-64-CR-0000319-2014 (Wayne Cty. Ct. Com. Pl. Nov. 10,
2016). Ogden argued that his trial counsel provided
ineffective assistance of counsel because he failed to
adequately investigate and prepare Ogden's defense,
failed to file and litigate pre-trial motions, failed to
present witnesses or evidence on Ogden's behalf, failed
to adequately prepare for sentencing, and failed to object at
sentencing. Doc. 3-7 at 2-4. Ogden further argued
that the trial court erred because trial counsel's
ineffectiveness “so undermined the truth-determining
process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence
could have taken place.” Id. at 5. The court
denied Ogden's PCRA petition on June 26, 2017, and he
appealed the denial to the Superior Court. Commonwealth
v. Ogden, No. 2315 EDA 2017, 2018 WL 700650, *1 (Pa.
Super. Ct. Feb. 5, 2018). The Superior Court affirmed the
denial of Ogden's PCRA petition, noting that Ogden
“failed to satisfy his burdens of production and
persuasion on his ineffectiveness of counsel claims”
and finding that Ogden's trial counsel did not provide
ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. at *4.
Following the Superior Court's decision, Ogden filed a
petition for allowance of appeal with the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court, which denied the petition on August 29, 2018.
Commonwealth v. Ogden, 192 A.3d 1109, 1110 (Pa.
filed the petition that initiated this case on April 9, 2019
and raised four claims of error. Doc. 1. First,
Ogden argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective
assistance of counsel because (1) he failed to adequately
investigate or prepare Ogden's defense, (2) he failed to
file pretrial motions seeking the appointment of a
psychiatrist or a toxicologist to testify on a voluntary
intoxication defense and (3) he failed to file a pretrial
motion seeking the appointment of a ballistics expert to
testify that the gun discharged accidentally when Ogden shot
Pisall. Id. at 5. Second, Ogden argues that the
trial court erred “in not finding that the failure of
the Defendant's appointed counsel to present any
witnesses, evidence or adequate argument of the
Petitioner's impairment violated the Defendant's
Eighth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution
in that the jury must be able to consider and give full
effect to all relevant mitigating evidence.”
Id. at 7. Third, Ogden argues that the trial court
erred because his trial counsel's ineffectiveness
“so undermined the truth-determining process that no
reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken
place.” Id. at 8. Finally, Ogden argues that
the state courts erred in not finding that the failure to
raise his claims earlier stemmed from his trial counsel's
ineffectiveness. Id. at 10.
respondents filed a response to Ogden's petition and a
brief on May 1, 2019. Docs. 3-4. The respondents
argue that the petition should be denied because the state
courts that considered Ogden's claims during his PCRA
proceedings “made an exhaustive examination” of
Ogden's ineffective assistance of counsel claim
“and specifically found that there was no basis for
that claim.” Doc. 4 at 6. The respondents
further argue that the state court decision denying
Ogden's PCRA petition was not contrary to clearly
established federal law. Id.
15, 2019, Ogden filed a largely irrelevant reply brief in
which he discusses this district's recent overturning of
the conviction of Graham Spanier. See doc. 7 at 2-3;
see also Spanier v. Libby, No. 3:19-CV-00523 (M.D.
Pa. Apr. 30, 2019). Ogden acknowledges that the
Spanier case and this case “are different,
” but cites the case “to illustrate that the mere
fact that Ogden's conviction was upheld in the State
court system is not evidence that the Petitioner's rights
were not violated, and, ignored by the State Court
system.” Id. at 3. Ogden then argues that
“[t]he state courts' decisions rejecting Mr.
Ogden's claims are contrary to, and unreasonable
applications of, clearly established Supreme Court precedent,
” but does not cite any Supreme Court precedents in
support of this statement. Id.
23, 2019, the parties consented to the jurisdiction of a
United States Magistrate Judge and the undersigned became the
presiding judge in this case. We consider Ogden's claims
for relief below.
The Only Proper Respondent in This Case Is Eric
petition names as respondents the Superintendent of SCI
Somerset, Eric Tice; Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh
Shapiro; and Wayne County District Attorney Patrick L.
Robinson. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243, the writ of
habeas corpus, or order to show cause, shall be directed to
the petitioner's custodian. The warden of the prison
where the petitioner is held is considered the custodian for
purposes of a habeas action. Rumsfeld v. Padilla,
542 U.S. 426, 442 (2004). Ogden is incarcerated at SCI
Somerset, so Tice is the proper respondent ...