United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. No. 1) filed by pro
se Petitioner Donald Washington
(“Petitioner”), who is currently incarcerated at
the State Correctional Institution in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
(“SCI Camp Hill”). Petitioner filed motions for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. Nos. 3, 8)
but paid the requisite filing fee on September 14, 2019.
Given Petitioner’s payment of the filing fee, the Court
will deny as moot his motions for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. For the following reasons, the Court
will summarily dismiss Petitioner’s § 2254
December 29, 1993, Petitioner was sentenced to a term of life
imprisonment after he was “convicted of first degree
murder, criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and
recklessly endangering another person” following a jury
trial in the Court of Common Pleas for Dauphin County.
See Washington v. SCI Coal Twp. Superintendent, No.
4:CV-05-2387, 2006 WL 898168, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 4, 2006).
On July 18, 1994, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed
Petitioner’s convictions and sentence. See
Commonwealth v. Washington, 649 A.2d 465 (Pa. Super.
1994). On April 18, 1995, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
denied Petitioner’s petition for allowance of appeal.
See Commonwealth v. Washington, 657 A.2d 490 (Pa.
22, 1995, Petitioner filed a Post Conviction Relief Act
(“PCRA”) petition with the Court of Common Pleas
for Dauphin County. See Washington, 2006 WL 898168,
at *1. The PCRA court denied his petition on January 15,
1997. See id. Petitioner’s appeal was denied
by the Superior Court on August 4, 1998, and the Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania denied his petition for allowance of
appeal on March 23, 1999. See id. Petitioner
subsequently filed three (3) more PCRA actions, all of which
were unsuccessful. See id.
November of 2005, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to § 2254 with this Court.
See id. In that petition, Petitioner claimed that he
was entitled to habeas relief based upon the following
(1) counsel at his arraignment failed to request a pre-trial
line up; (2) all subsequent counsel neglected to raise the
lack of a pre-trial line up issue; (3) trial counsel did not
object to a suggestive in-court identification of the
Petitioner; (4) appellate counsel failed to raise the
identification issue; (5) trial counsel neglected to request
a Kloiber instruction; (6) appellate counsel did not
raise the Kloiber issue. [Petitioner] also
challenge[d] his conviction on the grounds that he was
subjected to an in-court suggestive identification and that
Dwight Sutton, who [was] described as being a key
Commonwealth witness, has recanted his testimony.
Id. On April 4, 2006, the Honorable James F. McClure
dismissed Petitioner’s § 2254 petition as untimely
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). See id.
at *3-4. Judge McClure subsequently denied Petitioner’s
motion for reconsideration on October 24, 2006. See
Washington v. SCI Coal Twp. Superintendent, No.
4:CV-05-2387, 2006 WL 3042983, at *2 (Oct. 24, 2006).
on May 5, 2010, Petitioner filed a fifth PCRA petition,
alleging that counsel was ineffective for never conveying a
plea offer to him. See Commowealth v. Washington,
No. 1221 MDA 2014, 2015 WL 7576068, at *1 (Pa. Super. Ct.
Feb. 2, 2015). The PCRA court dismissed his petition, the
Superior Court affirmed the dismissal, and the Supreme Court
of Pennsylvania denied Petitioner’s petition for
allowance of appeal. See id. Petitioner also filed a
sixth PCRA petition, alleging that his sentence of life
imprisonment violated the Eighth Amendment in light of the
United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v.
Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). See id. The PCRA
court denied the PCRA petition, and the Superior Court
affirmed that denial. See id. at *4.
October 20, 2017, Petitioner filed another PCRA petition,
again arguing that his sentence was illegal pursuant to
Miller. See Commonwealth v. Washington, No.
1953 MDA 2017, 2018 WL 6258698, at *1 (Pa. Super. Ct. Nov.
30, 2018). Petitioner also argued that the United States
Supreme Court’s decision in Atkins v.
Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002),  “made illegal
mandatory sentencing schemes that mandate life without
possibility of parole for defendant[s] who suffer from mental
disorders or [are] similarly situated.” See
id. The PCRA court dismissed his petition on November 3,
2017. See id. On November 30, 2018, the Superior
Court affirmed the dismissal of the PCRA petition. See
id. at *2. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied
Petitioner’s petition for allowance of appeal on June
19, 2019. See Commonwealth v. Washington, No. 49 MAL
2019, 2019 WL 2520445 (Pa. June 19, 2019).
August 23, 2019, the Court received the instant § 2254
petition from Petitioner. In this petition, Petitioner again
challenges his judgment of conviction from Dauphin County and
maintains that his sentence of life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole is unconstitutional. (Doc. No. 1 at 1,
5.) Specifically, Petitioner asserts that his sentence is
illegal pursuant to Atkins because he suffers from a
“documented history of mental disorders, and
retardation.” (Doc. No. 2 at 10.) As relief, Petitioner
seeks to have his life sentence vacated and to be resentenced
to a sentence that “reflects [his] diminished
culpability.” (Id. at 25.) Petitioner’s
§ 2254 petition has not been served upon Respondent. The
Court now considers the § 2254 petition pursuant to Rule
4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United
States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (1977).
2254 allows a district court to “entertain an
application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person
in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on
the ground that he is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.”
See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Relief cannot be
granted unless all available state remedies have been
exhausted, or there is an absence of available state
corrective process, or circumstances exist that render such
process ineffective to protect the rights of the petitioner.
See id. § 2254(b)(1). Moreover, an application
for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits,
notwithstanding the failure of the petitioner to exhaust
available remedies in the State courts. See id.
§ 2254(b)(2). In other words, a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus must meet exacting substantive and procedural
standards in order for a petitioner to obtain relief. See
respect to habeas petitions filed by state prisoners pursuant
to § 2254, Congress has restricted the availability of
second and successive petitions pursuant to 28 ...