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Hatfield v. Smith

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 30, 2019

RICKY LYNN HATFIELD, Petitioner
v.
BARRY R. SMITH, Respondents

          MEMORANDUM

          Malachy E. Mannion United States District Judge .

         Ricky Lynn Hatfield, an inmate presently confined in the State Correctional Institution, Houtzdale, Pennsylvania (SCI-Houtzdale), filed this pro se habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254. (Doc. 1, petition). He attacks a conviction imposed by the Court of Common Pleas for Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Id. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the petition as untimely.

         I. Background

         The following background has been extracted from the Pennsylvania Superior Court's February 17, 2017 Memorandum Opinion affirming the sentencing court's dismissal of Petitioner's petition filed under the Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), 42 Pa.C.S. §§9541 - 9546. (Doc. 8-1 at 82 -84).

On April 30, 2014, Hatfield entered a plea of nolo contendere to two counts of aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence (DUI).[1] The charges stemmed from an incident in which Hatfield, while driving his tractor-tailor cab under the influence, veered off the roadway and hit two men who were working on a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. The victims suffered serious injuries. On May 2, 2014, Hatfield filed a motion to withdraw his plea, asserting that he “wants to wait and see if the victims get out of their wheelchairs before making a decision on the plea offer.” Motion to Withdraw Plea, 5/2/14, at ¶3. After a hearing, the court denied Hatfield's motion and, on May 28, 2014, sentenced him to an aggregate term of 42 to 120 months' imprisonment.
On June 9, 2014, Hatfield filed a post-sentence motion to withdraw his plea and for modification of sentence. The court held a hearing on July 31, 2014, at which Hatfield was represented by new counsel. The court denied Hatfield's motion that same day; no direct appeal was filed.
On June 17, 2015, Hatfield filed a timely pro se PCRA petition and the court appointed Shane Kope, Esquire, to represent him. On August 27, 2015, Attorney Kope filed a “no-merit” letter pursuant to Turner/Finley[2] and requested to withdraw as counsel. The court granted counsel's request on August 31, 2015, and entered an order pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 907 notifying Hatfield of its intent to dismiss his petition. Hatfield filed a response to the court's Rule 907 notice on September 18, 2015;[3] the court dismissed his petition on that same date.

         Hatfield filed a timely notice of appeal and court-ordered statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b). Hatfield raises the following issues, verbatim, for our review:

1. Was the plea invalid pursuant to [Pa.R.Crim.] 590, in relation to the in court colloquy?
2. Did the court abuse discretion in denying the motion to withdraw plea? (Without hearing) - (Which includes the underlying issue).
3. Did [Hatfield] suffer ineffective assistance for the purpose of appeal?
4. Did [Hatfield] suffer ineffective PCRA counsel, and was PCRA counsel[‘] Finley letter defective?
5. Did [Hatfield] suffer a breach of plea agreement/promise to waiving his right to preliminary hearing?
6. Is nunc pro tunc relief due [Hatfield] and should sentence be imposed based upon his knowledge of the plea?
7. Pro se appellant was denied assistance of counsel at the time of sentencing.
Brief of Appellant, at 3.

(Doc. 8-1 at 82 -84). On February 17, 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the PCRA Court's dismissal of Hatfield's PCRA petition. Id. ...


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