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Gladney v. Luther

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 29, 2019

JEFFERY GLADNEY, Petitioner,
v.
JAMEY P. LUTHER, Superintendent, and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, JOSH SHAPIRO, Respondents.

          ORDER

          EDWARD G. SMITH, J.

         AND NOW, this 29th day of August, 2019, after considering (1) the petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by the pro se petitioner, Jeffery Gladney (“Gladney”) (Doc. No. 1), (2) the response to the habeas petition filed by the respondents (Doc. No. 17), the report and recommendation filed by the Honorable Thomas J. Rueter (the “R&R”) (Doc. No. 18), Gladney's “Traverse for Habeas Corpus Relief” (Doc. No. 19), the state court record, the supplemental report and recommendation filed by Judge Rueter (the “Supplemental R&R”) (Doc. No. 22), and Gladney's objections to the R&R and Supplemental R&R (Doc. No. 25), it is hereby ORDERED as follows:

         1. The clerk of court is DIRECTED to REMOVE this action from civil suspense and RETURN it to the court's active docket;

         2. Gladney's objections to the R&R and Supplemental R&R (Doc. No. 25) are OVERRULED;[1]

         3. The Honorable Thomas J. Rueter's R&R (Doc. No. 18) and Supplemental R&R (Doc. No. 22) are APPROVED and ADOPTED;

         4. Gladney's petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. No. 1) is DENIED;

         5. Gladney has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right and is therefore not entitled to a certificate of appealability, 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2);[2] and

         6. The clerk of court shall mark this case as CLOSED.

         stated in the habeas petition as vague and, even if it was an error, Gladney would not be entitled to relief because Judge Rueter analyzed the petition based on the claims Gladney raised to the state courts. Therefore, this objection is overruled.

         Regarding the second objection, Judge Rueter properly determined that some of Gladney's claims were procedurally defaulted. Gladney never points to any document or text in the record showing that he raised a constitutional prosecutorial misconduct claim under either the Sixth or the Fourteenth Amendments and there is no indication in the record before this court that the Pennsylvania appellate courts interpreted his submissions as raising a federal constitutional claim. Additionally, with respect to Gladney's claim relating to the prosecutor's comment about him being on the run, Judge Rueter explained that even if Gladney had preserved a constitutional claim about this comment, the claim lacked merit because the comment “was not so egregious that it fatally infected the proceedings and rendered the entire trial unfair, ” R&R at 11 (citing Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 168, 181 (1986)), the trial court gave a curative instruction that the jury should disregard this statement, and there is a presumption that the jury followed the trial court's instructions. Id. (citing Greer v. Miller, 483 U.S. 756, 766 n.8 (1987) and United States v. Gonzalez, 905 F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir. 2018)).

         As for Gladney's claim that the prosecutor committed misconduct by impermissibly vouching for the credibility of a witness, Judge Rueter accurately noted that the Superior Court determined that Gladney waived this issue under Rule 2119(c) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure. Judge Rueter explained that “[c]ourts in this district have found Pa. R. App. P. 2119(c) to be an independent and adequate ground for the purposes of the procedural default doctrine.” Id. at 12 (citing Davis v. McGinley, 2018 WL 3596867, at *20 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 21. 2018) (collecting cases), approved and adopted by, 2018 WL 3585171 (E.D. Pa. July 25, 2018)). Judge Rueter pointed out that Gladney had the burden to show that this procedural rule is not independent and adequate, and Gladney failed to meet this burden. Id. Gladney has failed to articulate how Judge Rueter erred in finding procedural default here, and this court has no issue with Judge Rueter's analysis.

         For a final note, Gladney does not explain how Judge Rueter erred in determining that he did not demonstrate cause and prejudice to excuse any procedural default through his passing reference to the ineffectiveness of his direct appeal counsel. Judge Rueter appropriately determined in the Supplemental R&R that Gladney has not demonstrated cause and prejudice here because he failed to (1) exhaust any ineffective assistance claim against his counsel because he did not file an appeal from the denial of his PCRA petition, and (2) establish cause and prejudice that would have excused him from exhausting his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Therefore, to the extent that Gladney's objection extends to this argument as well, he is not entitled to any relief, and the court overrules the objection to Judge Rueter's procedural default determinations.

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