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Reese v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 2, 2019

DEON VAL REESE, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA and ALLEGHENY COUNTY COURT OF PLEAS, Respondents.

          District Judge Marilyn J. Horan

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MAUREEN P. KELLY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is respectfully recommended that the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 by a state court pre-trial detainee (the "Petition"), be dismissed pre-service because Petitioner fails to show that the Petition was not rendered moot by the termination of his state court pre-trial detention that was the basis for the Petition.

         II. REPORT

         A. Factual and Procedural History

         Deon Val Reese ("Petitioner"), was, at the time of the filing of the instant Petition, a pretrial detainee with respect to his custody in the Allegheny County Jail ("ACJ"). We take judicial notice of the fact that at the time of the filing of the Petition, his custody in the ACJ, was primarily due to him being charged with, inter alia, robbery, aggravated assault and attempted homicide in connection with the robbery and shooting of a victim which occurred on March 23, 2017 (the "Formerly Pending State Charges"). ECF No. 6-3 at 1. Commonwealth v. Reese, CP-O2-CR- 0008152-2017 (CCP Allegheny County).[1]Petitioner also notes though that he has federal detainer lodged against him in addition to the Formerly Pending State Charges in Allegheny County. ECF No. 6 ¶ 3. The federal detainer apparently arises as a result of Petitioner being under supervised release for a prior federal conviction obtained at USA v. Reese, No. 2:08-cr-00016-NBF (W.D. Pa.), where such conditions of supervised release would be violated if Petitioner had committed the crimes alleged in the Formerly Pending State Charges. We take further judicial notice that during the pendency of this Petition, a federal grand jury, on August 20, 2019, indicted Petitioner for federal crimes he allegedly committed, based upon the same robbery and shooting that occurred on March 23, 2017, and formed the basis for Formerly Pending State Charges. USA v. Reese, 2:19-cr-00257-NR (W.D. Pa.). We also take judicial notice of the fact that on August 28, 2019, the Formerly Pending State Charges against Petitioner were nolle prossed, apparently due to the federal prosecution of the charges.

         In the instant Petition, Petitioner had sought to challenge his pre-trial custody stemming from the Formerly Pending State Charges, asserting, inter alia, that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania failed to bring Petitioner to trial within the time required by Pa. R. Crim. P. 600, and that the prosecution of the Pending State Charges was barred because the Pennsylvania State Constitution of 1968 lacked a savings clause to preserve the previously enacted crimes code and, so consequently, there is no valid crimes code under which Petitioner can be charged.

         Given that the Formerly Pending State Charges were nolle prossed, Petitioner is no longer in state pre-trial custody for the Formerly Pending State Charges, which the Petition was attacking. Rather, Petitioner is now being held in federal custody pursuant to federal authority for the alleged violation of his supervised release in the USA v. Reese, No. 2:08-cr-00016 (W.D. Pa.), and/or based on the arrest and charges in his new federal criminal case USA v. Reese, 2:19-cr-00257 (W.D. Pa.) A review of both federal dockets indicates that on September 3, 2019, Petitioner had his initial appearance on the petition for revocation of supervised release in No. 08-cr-0016 and his initial appearance on the new federal charges at No. 19-cr-00257. Those dockets also reveal that Petitioner was ordered to be detained. Accordingly, Petitioner is no longer in the custody of the Respondents, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

         As a result, on September 3, 2019, this Court issued an Order to Show Cause to Petitioner to explain why, with the dropping of the state court charges and the consequential effect that the custody which he challenged herein, i.e., the pre-trial detention stemming from state charges, had ended, his Petition was not rendered moot. ECF No. 7. Petitioner's Response to this Order to Show Cause was due no later than September 23, 2019. Petitioner filed his response on September 9, 2019. ECF No. 8.

         B. Discussion

         1. Rule 4 pre-service dismissals

         Even though the Respondents have not been formally served with process, this Court may, pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 cases ("Rule 4"), [2] dismiss the Petition if it plainly appears on its face that the Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief. Rule 4 provides in relevant part that:

The clerk must promptly forward the [habeas] petition to a judge under the court's assignment procedure, and the judge must promptly examine it. If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must ...

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