United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
DALONZO M. ZEPPRINANS, Petitioner,
SUPERINTENDENT KEVIN KAUFMAN, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE COUNTY OF PHILADELPHIA, and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PA, Respondents.
G. SMITH, J.
NOW, this 28th day of October, 2019, p after
considering the petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 filed by the pro se petitioner,
Dalonzo M. Zepprinans (“Zepprinans”) (Doc. No.
1), the respondents' response to the petition (Doc. No.
15), the state-court record, the report and recommendation by
United States Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter (the
“R&R”) (Doc. No. 16), petitioner's
response to the respondents' response to the petition
(Doc. No. 17), Zepprinans' first set of objections to the
R&R (Doc. No. 20), the Judge Rueter's supplemental
report and recommendation (the “Supplemental
R&R”) (Doc. No. 22), and Zepprinans' timely
filed second set of objections to the Supplemental R&R
(Doc. No. 23), it is hereby ORDERED as
clerk of court is DIRECTED to
REMOVE this action from civil suspense and
RETURN it to the court's active docket;
Zepprinans' objections to the R&R and Supplemental
R&R (Doc. No. 23) are
Honorable Thomas J. Rueter's R&R (Doc. No. 16) and
Supplemental R&R (Doc. No. 22) are
APPROVED and ADOPTED;
petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. No.
1) is DENIED;
petitioner 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. §
clerk of court shall mark this case as
 The court conducts a de novo review
and determination of the portions of the report and
recommendation by the magistrate judge to which there are
objections. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (“A judge of
the court shall make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.”); see also
E.D. Pa. Loc. R. Civ. P. 72.1(IV)(b) (providing requirements
for filing objections to magistrate judge's proposed
findings, recommendations or report).
In his second set of objections to the Supplemental
R&R, Zepprinans repeats his arguments (included in his
petition, memorandum of law, and first set of objections to
the R&R) about there being insufficient evidence/an
unreasonable application of the law that goes against the
weight of the evidence, failure of counsel to call a material
witness, judicial bias, and ineffective assistance of counsel
for failing to conduct pre-trial investigation. See Second
Obj. to Second R&R (“Suppl. Objs.”) at 1-11,
Doc. No. 23. Because Zepprinans submitted the first set of
objections to the R&R prior to the Supplemental R&R
and Zepprinans had the opportunity to and did restate these
objections once receiving the Supplemental R&R, the court
is largely considering the second set of objections here.
Before addressing these objections, the court will briefly
address the timeliness of the Zepprinans' reply to
respondents' response to his petition.
The court is aware that Zepprinans filed his reply
brief late because he claims that the prisoner mailing system
delayed his receipt of the respondents' response to his
habeas petition. See Obj. to Premature R&R at 1-2, Doc.
No. 20. While Judge Rueter's supplemental report and
recommendation takes notice of the fact that Zepprinans'
reply was technically untimely filed, Suppl. R&R at 3-4,
Doc. No. 22, Judge Rueter considered the arguments raised in
the reply brief in the Supplemental R&R in the interests
of justice. Id. at 4. Therefore, Zepprinans'
case is not prejudiced by the fact that he, through no fault
of his own, seemingly received the respondents' response
eleven days prior to filing of the R&R.
Regarding Zepprinans' objections to the R&R
and Supplemental R&R, he contends that the lack of
evidence in the state court record demonstrates that the
state court decision was unsupported by sufficient evidence.
See Suppl. Objs. at 4, 8. More specifically, Zepprinans
argues that the state court's factual determination is
“‘objectively unreasonable in light of [n]o
evidence' being presented in the State court proceeding,
nor in this Federal Court[.]” Id. at 3.
Zepprinans' claim under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2),
however, should be considered in conjunction with section
2254(e)(1), which provides that “a determination of a
factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be
correct.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). The petitioner
bears the burden of “rebutting the presumption of
correctness by clear and convincing evidence.”
Id.; Miller-El v. Cockrell,537 U.S. 322,
340 (2003). In this case, Zepprinans has not met this high
burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness.