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Bedford v. Superintendent, SCI Retreat

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 29, 2019

DUANE BEDFORD, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, SCI RETREAT; THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA; and THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE COUNTY OF PHILADELPHIA, Respondents.

         Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, ECF No. 1 --- Denied and Dismissed Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 18 -- Approved and Adopted Petitioner's Objections to the Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 20 Overruled

          OPINION

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner Duane Bedford filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his conviction in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County for murder in the first degree and possession of an instrument of crime. United States Magistrate Judge Marilyn Heffley prepared a Report and Recommendation (R&R) which recommends that Petitioner's petition be denied and dismissed. Petitioner filed objections. After de novo review, this Court adopts the R&R in full as explained herein, overrules Petitioner's objections, and denies and dismisses the habeas petition.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A jury in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas convicted Petitioner on August 22, 2008, of murder in the first degree, 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2502(a), and possession of an instrument of crime, id. § 907(a). He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction, and to two and one-half to five months in prison for the possession of an instrument of crime charge, with the sentences to run concurrently. The conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal.[1]

         Petitioner timely sought relief under Pennsylvania's Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act (PCRA), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 9541-9551. The PCRA court denied relief and the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed that decision on appeal. Then, Petitioner timely filed the instant counseled habeas corpus petition raising five claims. After considering Petitioner's habeas corpus petition, Judge Heffley concluded that the claims lack merit or are procedurally defaulted and recommended that the petition be denied and dismissed. R&R, ECF No. 18. Petitioner objects to Judge Heffley's R&R. Obj., ECF No. 20. The Court considers those objections below.[2]

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         When objections to a report and recommendation have been filed under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), the district court must make a de novo review of those portions of the report to which specific objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir. 1989). “District Courts, however, are not required to make any separate findings or conclusions when reviewing a Magistrate Judge's recommendation de novo under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).” Hill v. Barnacle, 655 Fed.Appx. 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2016). The “court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations” contained in the report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         This Court conducted de novo review of the R&R and all of Petitioner's objections. The Court writes separately to address four objections. See Hill, 655 Fed.Appx. at 147 (holding that district courts are not required to make separate findings or conclusions when reviewing an R&R). After review, this Court adopts the R&R in full, overrules Petitioner's objections, and denies and dismisses the habeas petition.

         1. Objection to R&R's factual summary

         First, Petitioner objects generally to the factual summary in the R&R, arguing that it is “totally and completely distorted and unrealistic in the context of a habeas corpus petition.” See Obj. 1-4. Judge Heffley quoted this summary directly from the Superior Court of Pennsylvania's en banc decision dated May 31, 2012. R&R 2 (quoting Commonwealth v. Bedford, 50 A.3d 707 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2012)). This Court has reviewed the factual summary in the R&R, considered Petitioner's objection, and the allegedly omitted facts and testimony to which Petitioner refers. After review, the Court does not find the summary to be misleading, let alone erroneous. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1) (stating that “a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct”); Gibbs v. Diguglielmo, No. 09-4766, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1285, at *7-8 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 5, 2015) (“A petitioner faces a high hurdle in challenging the factual basis for a prior state-court decision rejecting a claim. The prisoner bears the burden of rebutting the state court's factual findings by clear and convincing evidence.”). Moreover, the allegedly omitted facts, such as testimony of Ebony Byrd and Gwendolyn Samuels, Frances Quitman's drug use, alleged evidence of a struggle, and alleged contradictory testimony, do not alter this Court's determination on the habeas claims.[3] See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2) (providing that relief under § 2254 “shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim . . . resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding”); Locke v. Kauffman, No. 15-520, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9269, at *8 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 26, 2016) (holding that a “decision adjudicated on the merits in a state court that is based on a factual determination will not be overturned on factual grounds unless deemed to be objectively unreasonable[4] in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding”). This objection is therefore overruled for the reasons set forth in the R&R.

         2. Objection to the R&R's conclusion with respect to Petitioner's claim for ineffective assistance of trial ...


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