United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
PATRICIA L. DODGE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
E. Stephenson (“Petitioner”) is a state prisoner
confined at the State Correctional Institution Greene. He has
filed with this Court a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 within which he challenges
the judgment of sentence imposed by the Court of Common Pleas
of Allegheny County on November 7, 2011, on his convictions
of second-degree murder, robbery, and conspiracy. His total
aggregate sentence is a term of life plus six to 12 years
imprisonment. Respondents have filed their Answer (ECF No.
13) and the state court record. Petitioner has filed his
Reply (ECF No. 19), which he recently supplemented (ECF No.
22). Petitioner attached to his Petition 135 pages of
exhibits, and over 800 pages of exhibits to his Reply and
recently filed a Request for Bail. (ECF No. 25). In support,
he cites Rule 23(b) of the Federal Rules of Appellate
Procedure, which sets forth the circumstances in which a
federal court may grant a petitioner bail when a decision
denying his habeas petition is under federal appellate
review. His reliance upon Rule 23(b) is misplaced because it
does not apply in this circumstance, where Petitioner's
§ 2254 habeas case is before the district court.
“There is no federal statute or court rule that
addresses the district court's authority to grant a state
prisoner bail during the pendency of federal habeas corpus
proceedings.” Brian R. Means, Federal Habeas Manual
§ 8:78, Westlaw (database updated May 2019). The United
States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that
bail pending a district court's review of a habeas
petition is available “‘only when the petitioner
has raised substantial constitutional claims upon which he
has a high probability of success, and also when
extraordinary or exceptional circumstances exist which make
the grant of bail necessary to make the habeas remedy
effective.'” Landano v. Rafferty, 970 F.2d
1230, 1239 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Calley v.
Callaway, 496 F.2d 701, 702 (5th Cir. 1974)).
“This standard ‘reflects the recognition that a
preliminary grant of bail is an exceptional form of relief in
a habeas corpus proceeding.'” Id. (quoting
Lucas v. Hadden, 790 F.2d 365, 367 (3d Cir. 1986)).
Petitioner has not demonstrated that he has a high
probability of success and that extraordinary or exceptional
circumstances are present in this case. Therefore, his
request for bail is denied.
also recently filed a Preliminary Discovery Request. (ECF No.
24). “A habeas petitioner, unlike the usual civil
litigant in federal court, is not entitled to discovery as a
matter of ordinary course.” Bracy v. Gramley,
520 U.S. 899, 904 (1997). See also Harris v. Nelson,
394 U.S. 286, 300 (1969) (“broad-ranging preliminary
inquiry is neither necessary nor appropriate in the context
of a habeas corpus proceeding.”). Discovery is
authorized in Rule 6(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254
Cases in the United States District Courts only by leave of
court upon a showing by the petitioner of “good cause,
” which may be made “where specific allegations
before the court show reason to believe that the petitioner
may, if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate
that he is...entitled to relief[.]” Harris,
394 U.S. at 300. See also Bracy, 520 U.S. at 908-09.
The “burden rests upon the petitioner to demonstrate
that the sought-after information is pertinent and that there
is good cause for its production.” Williams v.
Beard, 637 F.3d 195, 209 (3d Cir. 2011). “[B]ald
assertions and conclusory allegations do not provide
sufficient ground to warrant requiring the state to respond
to discovery or to require an evidentiary hearing.”
Zettlemoyer v. Fulcomer, 923 F.2d 284, 301 (3d Cir.
Rule 6 does not authorize what is commonly referred to as
“fishing expeditions” and it is not enough for a
petitioner to speculate that the discovery he seeks might
yield information that would support one of his claims or
that it would give support to a new claim. See,
e.g., Deputy v. Taylor, 19 3d 1485, 1493
(3d Cir. 1994) (quoting with approval Munoz v.
Keane, 777 F.Supp. 282, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 1991), which
explained: “petitioners are not entitled to go on a
fishing expedition through the government's files in
hopes of finding some damaging evidence”);
Williams, 637 F.3d at 210-11 (the petitioner's
discovery request “amounts to an entreaty to engage in
a fishing expedition. The law is clear, however, that such
speculative discovery requests should be rejected.”).
Petitioner has not demonstrated the required “good
cause” for discovery and, therefore, his Preliminary
Discovery Request is denied.
upon the foregoing, Petitioner's Request for Bail (ECF
No. 25) and his Preliminary Discovery ...