Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ogden v. Tice

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 20, 2019

LOUIS RODERICK OGDEN, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT ERIC TICE, et al., Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM

          Susan E. Schwab Chief United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Introduction.

         This is 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.

         II. Background and Procedural History.

         On 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.

         Ogden 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.

         On 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. 2018).

         Ogden 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.

         The 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.

         On May 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.

         On May 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.

         III. Discussion.

         A. The Only Proper Respondent in This Case Is Eric Tice.

         Ogden's 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.